Journeys are often undertaken by the need to escape the tensions of our realities. Either the physical or metaphysical challenges one experiences on a journey evoke self-reflection and internal realisation, assisting the individual to resolve previous tensions and gather new outlook on life. This is evident in Tim Winton’s novel “A Big World,” Phillip Hodgin’s poem “Dirt Roads” and the film “Into the Wild. ” Winton’s “A Big World” expresses a journey as a physical experience prompting self-reflection and a new perspective on life, through the road trip of the two adolescent boys, the narrator and Biggie.
The tensions prompting the protagonists’ escape from their home of Angelus are established at the start of the text through the sensory images of confinement and boredom which reflect the character’s perceptions. The personification “misting drizzle wafts in from the sea” creates a tone of dullness and depression, suggesting their need to escape from the town.
This prompts their journey, beginning when the boys purchase the Kombi van, which becomes a symbol of escape and perceived freedom for the boys, conveyed in the quote, “mad feeling… the road flashing under your feet. The narrator’s acknowledgement of the expanding landscape that he experiences whilst on the journey is a recurring image, with the liberating potential of the road trip connoted through his reference to the “blue sky,” “hot weather” and “sunshine,” as a contrast to the deplorable weather of his home town. However, it is the experiences of his journey that ultimately challenge this impulsive belief in the salvation of escape and emphasise Winton’s representation of journeys as a means to prompt self-reflection.
When the boys collect Meg the hitchhiker, the narrator feels isolated due to Meg and Biggie’s almost instant close relationship, “Meg, this mouth-breathing moron, is staring at Biggie like he’s a guru. ” The narrator sees the parallels between their relationship and his and Biggie’s, realising that Biggie and himself are not very similar, prompting self-reflection about the destructive nature of their relationship, due to the sacrifices he has made to be with Biggie such as failing his exams, allowing the narrator to realise that freedom is the need to take personal responsibility.
The self-realisation and new perspective on ife, generated through the unexpected and challenging experiences on the journey, brings a newfound understanding on ourselves and others, which, in turn, assists us to resolve previous tensions. The poem “Dirt Roads,” by Phillip Hodgins, describes journeys as the different paths one may take in life, sustained through contrasting road metaphors. The more hazardous path may seem more difficult and dangerous, but ultimately leads to an enriched enlightened state of mind, contrasted with the undemanding straightforward linear path, which results in no sense of fulfilment upon completion.
The concepts of the beauty and extraordinary incidents encountered whilst on dirt roads are juxtaposed frequently throughout the text to the dreary lacklustre bitumen roads. The metaphor, “Bitumen is monoculture whereas half an hour on a dirt road can be like Mozart’s ‘Fantasy in D Minor,” emphasises the dull repetitive nature of sealed roads, and consequentially, the wearisome and uninspiring life of individuals who engage on this path, juxtaposed to the remarkable events on the dirt path.
These notions act as an extended metaphor, and are supported throughout the poem via Hodgin’s use of key words, such as ‘regularity’ to depict the bleak tedious sealed road and ‘eventful’ to portray the action-packed dirt road. The concluding rhetorical question, “And where are they all going anyway? ” represents the poet’s feelings towards individuals on the sealed road challenging the reader to reflect, conveying they have no purpose in life and the conclusion of the journey leaves them uninspired and unaltered.
The film “Into the Wild,” expresses a journey as a passage of growth induced by past experiences, where events encountered prompt reflection ensuing an enlightened state of mind. This is explored through Christopher McCandless, an American university graduate, abandoning his present life to engage on an journey throughout America. In the opening scene of the film, Christopher responds to his father’s gift of a new car with, “Why would I want a new car?
I don’t want anything” illustrating Christopher’s rejection of materialistic views emphasised through his repetition of the imperative. This incident prompts his journey into the unknown, where upon abandoning his car he symbolically destroys his last material possessions necessary to function in society, including all his money, symbolic of him turning his back on the auspicious life he was brought up in.
Upon leaving his car, the wide open space he is encompassed with is a recurring image, as throughout the film effective use of cinematography is deployed to portray Christopher’s submersion in the wilderness. At the end of the film, the wide panoramic shot over an Alaskan forest depicting Christopher’s emaciated figure contrasted with the snow capped valley surrounding him highlights Christopher’s submersion in the isolated forest, and consequentially his success in dividing himself from civilisation.
He experiences a spiritual awakening, realising that even through all of the physical encounters he has endured, it is ironically the simple human emotion of loneliness that becomes his greatest barrier. Physical journeys have the capacity to prompt introspection through events encountered. The physical or internal challenges one experiences on a journey evoke self-realisation and reflection, assisting the individual to resolve previous tensions and gather new perspective on life.
Courtney from Study Moose
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