Through out the book “Fly Away Peter”, Jim Saddler has grown from innocent to mature and even to death. This seems like a cycle of nature. People born and people die. In this novel, I think the novel is trying to convey the idea of regeneration than how Jim changed throughout the story.
Regeneration is an important theme of Malouf’s Fly Away Peter. According to the novel everything regenerates, and not only in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense too. The term regenerate means to bring back again or bring out something new in our awareness of life. Its occurrence can be seen throughout the book and it includes the digging by the old man, the digging by Jim at the end of the novel, the fact birds come and go with old ones replaced by new ones and how Jim’s spirit lives on as the young surfer in the eyes of Miss Harcourt. They are all regenerations that are part of the cycle of life.
Earth is associated with the cycle of life as it is a sign of birth, where lives stem from. Soil has always been where the life starts, this can been seen in the novel, “It (earth) was a smell that belonged to the beginning of things (life).” It is clear that soil is where life stems from; it is where plants receive their nutrients in order for new life and this is why the old man is digging, he is digging to plant new lives. Even though there is a war going on around him, he still prepares the field for the seeds, because he understands that live still goes on in all circumstances. It is through the plants from the seeds can new lives stem out of the ground and it is all part of the regenerations. The discovery of the mammoth “was a great wonder” and a rebirth of knowledge, it uncovers the past and puts new meanings and knowledge in our life as we learn about the past. Therefore, soil not only regenerates physically with new lives but also new understandings of life.
Birds play an important role in the book as a sign of life. Birds have always been associated with life and freedom just like what the novel suggests “Birds were of life”. Every year they migrate to different places, yet it is not the same birds that come and go every year. The old birds get replaced by young birds and it is all part of the cycle of life. Also, like the old man digging, they carry on with their life unaffected by the war; this can be seen from the quote “Even here, in the thick of the fighting, there were birds.” It is apparent that despites the chaos, death and horrors happening down below, the birds can still regenerate and live the way nature intended them to.
Through the young surfer, there is a sense of the rebirth of Jim spiritually in Imogen’s mind. The young surfer at the end of the novel is essentially the “new” Jim for Imogen, although they are not the same person, it is as if Jim has dug through the earth to come back as the young surfer. Imogen recognises this, and understands that no matter what happens life goes on like the way waves never stop. Both of them never ending and Imogen realises that there is other people in the world that will have the image of Jim.
Regeneration is an important theme of the novel, all things in life regenerates, from the birds to our minds, from the earths to the oceans, it occurs at every level of the world. With regeneration, it also brings us new meanings of life and increases our knowledge and awareness of our surroundings; therefore regeneration is essential to our life.
Courtney from Study Moose
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