Cloudstreet, Tim Winton Essay, Research Paper
Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton
A texts setting and structure will normally be used by writers to develop and convey its themes.
The novel Cloudstreet, by Western Australian born novelist Tim Winton is essentially a story revolving around how two rural families have come to live together at number one Cloudstreet. This novel s themes are about finding one s place in the world and the search for the meaning of life. As in this instance, Winton has successfully used setting and structure, crucial factors in any prosperous novel to help create a feeling of a real-life type atmosphere and perspective. This essay will demonstrate how Winton has used setting and structure to help develop and convey his themes.
The story follows the lives of the Pickle family and the Lamb family and how they have come to grow, develop, love and change over a period of twenty years, while living with each other. Unfortunately, both moves coincided with different family disaster s. For the Lamb s, the unfortunate event takes place in the form of the near drowning of Samson, or as he is better known as Fish. While for the Pickles, it occurs with the loss of Sam s (the father s) fingers in a fishing accident. The reader can relate these events it to the biblical story of Samson, and how he gained his strength through his hair. Meaning that by losing some of their strengths, (like Samson s hair cut,) both Sam s where able to gain new insights and opportunities. For Sam Pickles, this meant the move into the city from the outback, brought him his own home and a steady job at the mint. A rather large irony, as Sam is a compulsive gambler, more often than not short of cash. Although for Fish, losing his mental faculties and the ability to communicate to others, in his near drowning experience, gave way for his unimaginable bond with water and his abilities as a visionary. As Oriel Lamb said after Fish was rescued, To the child who had hovered on the brink of drowning and who returned to life, though not all of Fish Lamb had come back, (found on Page 32) that other part of Fish Lamb it seems is the omniscient narrator of the novel.
Spirituality is also important in Cloudstreet as it relates to the meaning of life and the exploration of community. We can see this in the opening lines of the novel Shall we gather at the river Where bright angels feet have trod . The overall feeling you arrive at after reading the prologue of the novel is how hymn-like the tone is. This kind of tone continues throughout the prologue, though the religiosity of Winton s language is also profoundly secular in both its joyousness and relation to the concept of piety. However, the language evokes the bible in its rhythm and godliness, and another aspect is how biblical stories are more often than not noted for their relevance to everyday life. Such as this quote exemplifies found on page 151; Those bible stories and words weren t the kind you forgot. It was like they d happened to you all along, that they were your own memories.
Fish, as the novels narrator serves as the essence of spirituality. Being Fish Lamb. Perfectly. Always. Everyplace. Me. Page 424. We can relate the name Fish, to the symbolic figure of a fish that Jesus used meaning peace and the name Lamb symbolically representing that we as lambs follow the herd as the lord is our shepherd. This ultimately conveying a duality of his name, in which we can associate many aspects of his character. In his visions we see guardian angels and of him being able to talk to their pig confirms the aspect of the otherworldly in life. We see water as the most symbolic force in Fish life, as water symbolises cleansing, a type of cleaning and a new way of seeing or thinking about something. It is in Fish s heaven that we see his other-self and his desire to remember this world and too see it again. The spiritual ramifications of the novel s prologue and epilogue scenes are unmistakably clear. In water as there is death, there is rebirth or life. This is shown in the marriage of Quick and Rose and the birth of Wax Harry. Creating harmony within the two families and symbolically meaning that in the death of one loved one Fish, we see rebirth, harmony and the chance of a new life in both the child, Cloudstreet and between the two families.
As a novel, Cloudstreet is tightly structured, opening and ending with a shared family picnic near water. This is a joyous occasion which, ironically is also the scene in which Fish s long sought-after death by drowning. Through this act Fish, finally returns to himself and becomes one again. Fish s time on earth it seems was dictated by his fate to join the two families, culminating the marriage of Quick Lamb and Rose Pickles and the birth of Cloudstreet s son Wax Harry. The guilt Quick had always felt for his brothers drowning and witnessing it is expunged in his final act of sacrifice as he must watch as Fish reunites himself by throwing himself into the water. This event can be paralleled to guilt Judas Escariot felt towards Jesus after his betrayal. He must watch Fish, throwing himself into the water, knowing that it has been his one desire and destiny for twenty years. In essence the four hundred page saga of the two families which makes up the novel, is in effect, a flashback which occurs the instant before Fish s death. The life of Fish, flashing before his eyes as he reunites with himself and dies. As this aspect of the novel is its structure it, it can also be symbolically paralleled to the birth of Jesus juxtaposed to his fate and the resurrection juxtaposed with the rebirth of the biblical Jesus.
Beyond all references is the idea that we all need to find some meaning in life, whether it be through spirituality, religion or family. There is no one answer it seems or no one religion. Winton encourages the reader to question themselves, just as Oriel does. Is the answer to be found in the struggle, the learning, the desire to grow through our personal experiences or being open to the possibilities life gives us?
The novel suggests that the cycle of life will continue forever, and that some questions will never be answered.
Essentially, this essay has outlined how Winton has focussed on the theme of Spirituality in this novel, to help convey his story in Cloudstreet. The setting and structure become powerful symbolic tools, in respect to the theme as well as characters, when parallels are drawn between biblical stories and the characters presented by Winton. Ironically, in many respects, Winton has achieved a literary resurrection of the bible, by transposing the essential themes of life, death, rebirth and associated values, into a modern cultural context.