David Malouf's Fly Away Peter; 'enemies, Like Friends, Told You Who You Were.' To What Extent Is Jim's Understanding Of Self Enhanced By His Contact With Those Around Him?

1002 words - 5 pages

'Fly Away Peter' is essentially a story about life. Through the life of Jim Saddler the reader becomes aware of the ideas posed by the author, David Malouf. Jim's life, if anything, is indeed a journey, unfolding through various broadening experiences that lead to Jim's eventual understanding of the world and his own self. However, to simply say that this understanding is enhanced solely by his contact with those around him is only true to a certain extent. Jim's journey of life exists on many levels, just one of which is the lessons he learns through his contact with others.A strong note emphasised throughout the novel is Jim's detachment. During the establishment of his relationship w ...view middle of the document...

Ashley and Imogen are certainly significant factors in Jim's journey. They play a part in his final understanding and affirmation of self, in that they are encouraging influences upon Jim and help him to appreciate himself, however they are not the sole deciding factors in Jim's comprehension of life.'Enemies, like friends, told you who you were'. This is indeed true of Jim, who learns much about his own self through the cynical criticism of his father and the brutish bullying of Wizzer. His father, with his bitter outlook and defeatist attitude, shows Jim what he does not want to become. In his father Jim see a possible mirror that could well reflect what Jim will become if he does not hold him 'at arm's length,' to keep from being 'infected'. Through Wizzer, Jim becomes aware of his own capacity for 'black anger'. Wizzer is significant because of what he reveals to Jim of his own character. The confrontation brings out another side to Jim. Wizzer is in fact doing him a favour in terms of personal growth, but Jim doesn't like what he sees. He admits that he does not wish 'to be confronted with some depth in himself...that frightened him and he doesn't understand'. The Wizzer experience is another exposing element on Jim's journey, a broadening experience. In this case, these people in Jim's life certainly enhance Jim's understanding of self, as they reveal to him a dark depth he may not have seen had it not been for their criticism.However, Jim's learning experiences are not only a result of his contact with others. Ever a private person, some may well say that the larger part of his journey took place on a personal level...

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