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Fly Away Peter

Uploaded by Spudgirl on Oct 29, 2001

‘...a kind of savagery that Jim kept at arm’s length...because he didn’t want to be infected’. How successfully does Jim avoid infection by ‘savagery’?


Jim’s insight into his father’s nature reflects his naive and innocent outlook in the first half of the novel. However, through his life experiences he is exposed to ‘savagery’ on many levels and on a much greater scale in the chaos of war. His preference to keep a considerable distance between himself and any acknowledgment of the darker side of human nature and the world is undermined by the challenges he is faced with throughout the novel. While in Queensland, Jim does not allow his father’s cynicism to intrude upon his untainted existence, and during the war his detachment is a means by which he can effectively avoid infection by ‘savagery’. But the ‘catastroph[ic]’ inhumanity of war and his experiences with Wizzer force Jim to acknowledge the brutality in the world.

Jim ‘resent[s] the cowardly acceptance of defeat’ that characterises his father, and purposefully distances himself from the violence he sees in him. Jim perceives violence as a sickness in individual men, not an innate characteristic of man. Although he does not understand such ‘savagery’ early in the novel, Jim blames his father for not overcoming the mistreatment he suffered in his youth, and instead imposing it upon Jim. He sees ‘nothing in common between his father and himself’, and indeed the optimism and enduring fascination at the natural world that epitomizes Jim contrasts markedly with his father’s bitter, disillusioned and limited view of the world. His father forecasts for Jim ‘a life as flat, save for the occasional down-turn, as his own’. However, Jim’s need to deepen his understanding of the world and his place in it inevitably leads him to France, and his father’s sentimental and envious farewell makes Jim realise that his decision to go to war marks a defining moment in his life, ‘as if a line had been drawn between the past and what was to come, the two parts of his life’. Indeed his departure from Australia marks a turning point in the novel, and heralds Jim’s ‘fall from innocence’.

Jim’s existence in the unspoilt security of the sanctuary is juxtaposed against the ‘madness’ of war to illustrate the way in which ‘savagery’ is increasingly imposing itself upon Jim and forcing him to broaden his outlook. During the war Jim’s newfound friends...

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Uploaded by:   Spudgirl

Date:   10/29/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,170 words)

Views:   1820

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