Fly Away Peter Analysis

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Question Two

David Malouf’s novel, Fly Away Peter tells of the events of the First World War through its protagonist, Jim Saddler, and his personal experiences. It also explores the tragedy and disruption that comes as a result of warfare. Through the use of narrative techniques Malouf clearly communicates his own personal attitude towards war which is that it is an unnecessary disturbance within the natural order that lacks overall purpose. These techniques, including symbolism, juxtaposition and intertextuality are also effectively employed throughout the novel to enhance the reader’s understanding of the key messages. Key messages conveyed throughout the novel relate to the effects of war as well as human experiences, these messages include
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The title of the novel ‘Fly Away Peter’ is one example of intertextuality and links the children’s nursery rhyme ‘Two Little Dickie Birds’ which was first published in Mother Goose's Melody in London around 1765. The use of this extract for the title of the novel could intentionally foreshadow the fact that Jim is sent away to War and is then followed by Ashley, as the rhyme reads: “Fly away Peter, fly away Paul. Come back Peter. Come back Paul.” The names Peter and Paul are known to references saint Peter and saint Paul who both became disciples of Christ then abandoned him before eventually returning. This intertextuality in the title of the novel is an indication of the biblical allusion that is highly prevalent throughout the novel. An example of this is the contrast of the Garden of Eden and Hell within the novel, through the representations of the sanctuary and the trenches. Jim’s home on the Queensland Gold Coast is ancient and abundant in its beauty and nature, this where Jim spent his innocent, happy years before he was sent to war. This image of a perfect place with subtle parallels to the Garden of Eden is then effectively juxtaposed with the hellish conditions and experiences Jim had in the trenches. This bold comparison is effective in communicating the devastating effect that war must have had on Jim and as a result it positions the reader to understand the key ideas about war and its violently savage nature. This use of biblical intertextuality within this novel has been purposefully imposed by Malouf in order for the reader to develop a deeper understanding of the ideas and messages that are being conveyed. The subtle allusions are effective and cause Jim’s physical and internal battle to truly be brought to
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