Cloudstreet Essay, Research Paper
Cloudstreet is the story of two families struggling to make ends meet in a run down house in Perth during the twenty years after World War II. It is a book about community that stirs deep hungers for belonging.
Fish Lamb?s Sadness Radar
The significance of the title of this chapter is shown in the opening sentences.
?Quick Lamb reads the paper every day and sees the long lists of the missing believed killed, and the notices in memoriam for sons and fathers and brothers. The war?s over, he knows, but he picks up sadness like he?s got a radar for it.?
We are introduced to the ?poor kids? that Quick sees at school. They are brothers, Wogga & Darren McBride. He notices that they have a strange way of eating their lunch, and he watches them every day at school. ?? he knows what he?s begun to suspect ? Wogga McBride and his brother aren?t eating anything at all; they?re just pretending. Out of pride, they?re going through the motions of unwrapping, passing, commenting on, eating food that doesn?t exist.?
Quick notices that he has never heard the 2 brothers laughing. One day he sits on a wall and watches them walk across the field and over the railway line on their way home, and he notices them playing with a stray dog and laughing. He?s surprised to hear them laugh, so he watches them, and reveals, ?he wants to go down there with them and run that dog ragged with them. Oh, the laughter, even over the sound of the train.?
Wogga McBride stumbles onto the train tracks and is killed by the train. This event disturbs Quick, to hear the sound of him getting hit, and to hear the screaming of Wogga?s younger brother. Quick ?? goes home and gets into bed and pulls the sheet over his head and stuffs his ears with notepaper.?
It is following Wogga?s death that Quick undergoes a transformation. Fish notices, as is shown in a section that is written from the perspective of his spiritual half.
?You stand there in the morning and the afternoon and see Quick all closed, white and hard? Why won?t he look at you? How do you bear it? How can you just stand at the end of his bed like that, with the patience of an animal??
Lester talks to Quick about what happened to Wogga, and about the effect it is having on him. He tells him that he?s hurting Fish, and then goes on to talk about the accident, and through his dialogue, Lester?s guilt is made apparent.
?You and me understand about Fish. We were there. We were stupid enough to drown him tryin to save him. You remember that. We owe him things, Quick. We got a debt.?
The point of view switches to Oriel, and the reader discovers that although she loves Lester, she doesn?t regard him that highly, or men in general. She reveals that she thinks there is something wrong with men, that they lack something, but she doesn?t know what it is. She goes on to tell the reader about her childhood, that her mother and sisters had died in a bushfire, which had razed the farm and the house. She doesn?t think very highly of her father, because it was as though he had abandoned her when he remarried. She tells us that her brother Bluey, whom she was extremely fond of, died in Palestine, ?? killed because he was careless, the swaggering underage horseman from the colonies showing how young and fearless he was.?
Oriel sees his death as a betrayal, rather than an act of courage, because she sees it as if he had really loved her, then he would?ve come back.
Once again the point of view changes, this time its Sam telling the story. He tells us about Lester, how he sees him ? ?He?s tall and thin; he?s beginning to stoop a little already, even though Sam guesses him to be about his own age??
Since they have moved into the other half of the house, they haven?t spoken at all, and Sam thinks that they work too hard, and don?t have much fun. However Sam?s opinion on Lester changes, when they elope to the races before the crack of dawn. Sam teaches Lester a bit about luck, and this is shown by their placing bets on the horses.
The only time Lester has ever been to a racetrack was for a revival meeting out in the open one night, to hear the gospel story. He has never before in his life placed a bet on a horse nor has he been drunk, but he felt some kind of power radiate from the races, which is shown in him thinking, ??it was like having a light shining on you; it suddenly felt like everything was possible and none of it mattered a damn.? Him and Sam get drunk, but despite being drunk, Lester still feels guilt and shame for spending family money at the races – ?He felt like a thief?, but despite this, Lester Lamb felt like a winner.
Towards the end of the chapter it comes to Rose?s turn to tell the story. She is pushing through the men at the bar to retrieve her drunken mother and direct her home, but Dolly is ??rooted to her soft chair in the ladies lounge?? with all the old girls that Rose hates. The relationship between Rose and her mother is firmly established, with Rose stating that she thinks her mother should be at home taking care of her and her brothers, not in the pub getting drunk and leaving them all at home alone to fend for themselves.