Fly Away Peter By David Malouf

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David Malouf’s novella, Fly Away Peter, explores the brutality of war through contrasting settings. One of the key themes used by Malouf is the serenity of nature verses the destruction of war. This is shown through the contrast between the brutal, grotesque imagery of the Western Front and the tranquil Estuary in Queensland. To cope with the brutality of war, the characters use separate realities to escape the world around them. This is mainly evident while the main protagonist, Jim, is on the confronting battlefield of the Western Front and uses the peacefulness of nature and his imagination to escape the atrocities going on around him. Despite this, the cyclical nature of life-conveyed through textual framing and a motif of regrowth-is shown …show more content…

This is markedly notable where the characters’ lives back in Australia are referred to by Jim as being “real” demonstrating that he believes that life out on the western front with all the brutal and abhorrent acts is merely a dreadful fantasy and is escapable if they can just get back to reality. This shows how even though Jim eventually accepts that the war is real, he had attempted to deceive himself by creating an alternate reality where he was back at the Estuary and was admiring the nature and birdlife, when in actual fact, he was sitting in a bomb crater with Bob Cleese stranded and hiding from the gunfire of the German soldiers. Jim was so successful in deceiving himself that he believed “Birds appeared…” before him. Another use of separate realities by the soldiers as a coping mechanism is where they are hidden in a trench physically, however it is described as “The bodies were not all here…Some of them were in the past… another country… few minutes into the future… out in the firestorm, or had got beyond even that to some calm green day on the other side of it.” This leads the audience to assume that while the soldiers were physically in the trenches about to surge up onto the bloodied no man’s land, they were not mentally present at that stage as they knew they were about to die and were in fact preparing themselves to face that reality; or they were attempting to escape the prison of their reality for a few minutes and enjoy one of their possibly last peaceful moments on earth; many of the soldiers had attempted to remove their minds from the situation and go back to a more peaceful time as their separate reality in order to cope with the brutality surrounding them while others had created an entirely new phantasmical setting to where they could

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