Yes, relationships are fragile but not permanently so and they are not just a group of individuals. Scope: address positive family representations of Tambling’s past family life and Michael’s own family, address current situation with Michael’s absence, not multiple issues, being the root of tension and final coming together being the result that Michael and Mr Tambling had planned and all had hoped for. Para 1 – address positive family representations of Tambling’s past family life and Michael’s own family, Para 2 – address current situation with Michael’s absence, not multiple issues, being the root of tension, not multiple issues, dysfunctional behaviour. Para 3 – final coming together being the result that Michael and Mr Tambling had planned and all had hoped for. Conclusion
Family life is documented, questioned and applauded in many Australian stories and James Moloney’s ‘Lost Property’ is one such tale. It may be argued that the Tambling family, upon which the novel is based, is a group of individuals held together by fragile relationships. Contrarily however, one may conclude that the family turmoil within the novel is a temporary state. Following, the positive representations of family life, Michael’s temporary exile and the family’s ultimate reconciliation will be explored to prove that the relationships within the family make them more than a group of individuals. The Tambling family has a solid past and has built ideals within the Tambling children to create healthy family networks. We are provided a picture of a productive family life initially; good schools, house close to Sydney. Josh tells us he has ‘just about everything I want’ (p 47).
More than the material though, the family invests in the family unit; dinners together at the table, lifts from parents to above-board activities and support at school. Josh and his father share a love of music, share easy banter and have obvious habits of drives together. Josh recalls idyllic beach outings ‘before that bottle of rum’(p 64) when Mrs Tambling wanted to ‘stop the sun going down’. Life was good. Michael perpetuates these ideals in his own life with Kelly; care, commitment and love are obvious. All the time though, we feel a perpetual pull of Michael back to his family of origin. The Tambling siblings have a strong bond, there is genuine family values, traditions and history so strong that it can be re-created by Michael in his own home-life; all evidence to show that the issues that arise, the arguments that occur are not exemplary of their standard life, but a reaction to the fact that their tight family unit is disunited. Michael’s absence sits like a seeping wound upon the family psyche. All the family relationships are put under strain by Michael’s behaviour and departure – Michael and Mr Tambling, Mr and Mrs Tambling, Josh and his father, Josh and his mother in particular.
Mr Tambling sending Michael away has put a wedge between him and his wife, her need to know of his safety causing great strain. Josh’s unhappiness, his feeling of being lost, having no identity could be paralleled with Michael’s absence – Josh begins to feel more connected when he begins his mission to Mackay, a quest to return the prodigal son. When we consider the events leading to Michael’s leaving – the drinking, behaviour, his age, one could consider whether Mr Tambling made a sacrifice in insisting Michael leave…a calculated decision for the sake of the remainder of the family. He makes another calculated decision when he discovers where Michael is – to not seek him out, to not tell the remainder of the family.
One could argue that these calculations were made not due to fragile relationships within the family but because of a deep love and the ultimate hope that the family will be reunited in good time. Family crisis is not unusual but working through crisis is a true test of family strength. In Michael’s case time was required to heal his wounds, perhaps growth as a person, finding his own identity, falling in love, made it possible for him to understand his father, forgive and accept him. The fragility is a consequence of Michael’s absence, the turmoil that preceded his departure and The unending need for the family to be reconciled, from all sides, invites readers to anticipate a family reunion, not a continuation of fragility.