Cloudstreet Division Reconciliation Essay

Cloudstreet is a post colonial text primarily concerned with the exploration of division and reconciliation. Discuss.
Cloudstreet is a postcolonial novel written and read in the postcolonial era so it particularly lends itself to a postcolonial interpretation. It engages postcolonial readers through the examination of issues related to the fact that Australia is a colony. Winton particularly focuses on the issues regarding national identity such as Reconciliation and Division between the characters.
In the text, Winton??™s use of the timeless theme of a search for a sense of belonging gives Cloudstreet value. All of the characters in the text are searching for some sort of physical or psychological sense of belonging, and most of them seem to find this within their own family. We can see this when the character of Quick leaves home because he can not cope with the constant conflict and searched for a better life. Many of you may see a parallel to the biblical story of the ???prodigal son??™ (a story of a young man who leaves his family and lives a life of pleasure and sin, only to return to his family a depressed and poverty stricken man), here, Winton comments that a true sense of belonging can only be achieved by the acceptance of one??™s place in society and an environment which is supportive. However, Quick returning home and the ???prodigal son??™ story contrast if we read it according to a feminist interpretation. When Quick returns home, he is greeted by his mother, Oriel, not the patriarchal father figure depicted in the biblical story. Here, Winton is challenging traditional gender roles by empowering the women in the text. The dominance of Oriel in her family is revealed in her reaction to Quick??™s homecoming and the governing tone in her comment to her husband Lester: ???Get your mouth outta gear and help me get him inside???
Characterization and Australian language and humour are important devices used by Winton which set a uniquely Australian tone in the exploration of spiritual fulfilment in place and family. Winton explores the effect Fish??™s drowning has on Oriel??™s spirit, who, clearly characterised by the trait of ???stickability??™ and hard work, uses this as a way of covering up her inner turmoil. The Lambs reject god when Fish is brain damaged, and they alienate god and spirituality. ???There they were. The Lambs of god. Except no one believes anymore??¦??? Oriel longs for the comfort and security of her ???mind country,??™ in a similar way to Fish, yet it takes her a long time to reconcile with this tragedy. Fish does not recognise his mother, partly because of her refusal to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of life, and partly because it was she who brought him back incomplete. It??™s only once Fish returns to the water, and the two families unite by the river that Oriel packs up her tent she, her move back into the house finally reflecting spiritual and psychological peace.
Despite Quick??™s lack of faith resulting from the guilt associated with Fish drowning and ???not returning???, Winton ironically portrays Fish as the connection between earthy knowledge and the spiritual realm. Dr Fiona Morrison says that ???halving Fish into a visionary, if impaired, character and otherworldly retrospective narrator creates a complex double position of inside-outside.??? Fish??™s role as ???life giver??? and as a ???fisher of men??? is to allow the other characters to understand their place within the world and to reach their own sense of peace and belonging, through the ???gift bought with pain and shortening???. He also works to allow the families to understand the spiritual dimensions and miracles within the ordinariness of their lives. The duality of Fish??™s personality as physical ???retarded??™ Fish and spiritual Fish who encourages the reconciliation of the characters??™ sense of identity allows himself to be a martyr to the family, whilst desiring a reconciliation of his two aspects, which is achieved in the novel??™s conclusion, as he ???bursts into the moon, sun , stars of who I really am???.
Another of the principal issues in the text is the importance of family. So does this give value to it Cloudstreet like many other contemporary Australian novels is a saga. It allows us to observe the true journey of the two families, through the joyous experiences as well as the tragic. The tense relationship between Dolly and her daughter Rose, illustrates this point. Their relationship is a result partly of the family??™s struggle to survive their numerous misfortunes and partly a result of Dolly??™s harsh and unhappy upbringing which has in turn made her an inconsiderate and selfish woman, who according to Rose, would ???beat us and shamed us in public???. However, by the end of the novel with the birth of ???Wax Harry??™, Rose??™s son, Dolly and Rose??™s relationship is partly reconciled, suggesting that there is hope for the unity of the family. By sustaining this hope to the end in spite of so many harsh circumstances, Winton celebrates human endurance and reconciliation between mother and daughter.
Overall, Cloudstreet is a carefully structured historical fiction that thematises division and reconciliation as part of the post colonial identity. Winton explores this through the characterisation of the Lamb and Pickles families as they struggle to interconnect with themselves, their relationships with one another and the spirituality of Fish??™s guidance between the spiritual world and the normal world.
To what extent has your personal response to Cloudstreet been shaped by the enduring power of Winton??™s characteristics of Oriel, Rose and Dolly
Tim Winton??™s novel ???Cloudstreet??? has been shaped through the various characteristics of the female characters. The characterisation of these characters is one such features that can be manipulated to explore themes and contextual concerns. My understanding of ???Cloudstreet has developed through the empathy for the female characters and their experiences throughout the novel which has had a key role in shaping my personal response to the text.
The mothers of the Lamb and Pickles families share a contrast in their characterisation. Both women suffer a family tragedy as children and both, in their respective ways are stronger than the men in their live and yet they lead two very different lives. Dolly Pickles is portrayed as a very sexual person with ???curls and lips and hips and everything (pg 48)??? and it is from her sexuality that she gains her power, but Oriel Lamb is distinctly asexual as she possesses ???meaty little arms and the sexless ashen bob and the sensible boots (pg 58). With these simile characteristics, we assume she is quite the tomboy and is a very strong person.
Dolly is a woman defeated by the failings of her expectations. As she squats by the train tracks on a winter??™s night, we share her disillusionment when, ???nothing ever turns out like you expect. Like how your father ends up not being your father, and all.??? As the clues are lead to her child abuse and abandonment by her family. Dolly believed her birth mother to be her sister; a ???sister??? who made her ???feel like rubbish (pg 357). Dolly ???worshipped??? the man she believed to be her father and the revelation of this secret is a form of rejection for her that affects her deeply and could be the main reason for her neglect, abuse and hatred of her daughter Rose. Dolly??™s desire to escape her legacy and to return to the innocence of her childhood is symbolised by her affinity with the railway tracks, ???Remember those hot buckling rails up there, up north where childhood lived??? Her process of healing is alluded to the reconciliation with her daughter Rose as to whom she does not have a good relationship with. The reader endures Dolly when she changes her behaviour towards Rose, is forgiven.
Oriel Lamb??™s legacy is that of hard work, embodies the values of clean living, family togetherness and a strong work ethic. These values are the legacy of Oriel, who exists as the nucleus of the Lamb family. Oriel??™s journey through ???Cloudstreet??? is described as a crisis of faith. As a child, she survived the fire which killed her family and her father remarrying as a sign of loneliness marked by survivor??™s guilt. Despite the events on her childhood, ???Oriel continued to love her father???, even though she had learnt that loving a man meant, ???giving to the weak,??? leaving the reader with an impression of irony as she herself has married the weak Lester Lamb. Considered as a ???Godfearing??? person, her faith is shattered by the drowning of her son Fish. Trying to resuscitate him by ???shouting at the Lord Jesus??? but is then crushed when ???not all of Fish came back??? and her miracle becomes a nightmare feeling disillusioned and abandoned by her faith. Oriel finds herself with questions her faith can??™t answer and it is her struggle to find these answers is where she shapes her experiences. She searches for answers in toil and humility by retreating to a tent in the backyard of the house. The resolution of Oriel??™s crisis of faith is as difficult to find as the nature of faith itself. Her answer seems to lie in her struggle to maintain faith. When all seems lost, Fish the narrator says, ???A whole life of waiting for answers that don??™t come. Wait Oriel keep strong mum!??? thus allowing Oriel to complete the healing process and allowing her to find peace and return to her home.
Rose Pickles is a complex character whose life in the novel is characterised by a lack of communication and a lack of trust with those closest to her. Rose has a troubled relationship with her mother Dolly and is pretty competitive, ???She was a pretty kid, but not as pretty as her mother.??? Rose??™s impact on life as an adolescent is characterised by anger, hatred and a powerful desire for control as she deals with a gambling father and an alcoholic mother. Dolly provides an affluent influence on her life when she says, ???You know you??™ll have to leave school, don??™t you??? forming another key turning point. Seeing ???the world looks different (pg 183)??? Rose blossoms into a confident, independent young woman who ???ploughs through that crazy happiness (pg 183)???. After dumping her first boyfriend Toby Raven, she falls into the arms of a sensitive Quick Lamb. Her process of healing deals with the reconciliation of her mother ???like tonic??? is the platform set for ???all the childish impulses of the Geraldton days??? in where she lost her childhood, the birth of her son Harry and a new life with Quick.
Through the characterisation of the three women of Cloudstreet, Winton combines faith, reality, trials and empathy to deal with the lives of Dolly, Oriel and Rose and how they each lose something that is important to them, to the point of suffering through trials and tribulations. These conflicts lead to the process of healing for each of these characters allowing them to move forward with their lives and allow us to feel empathy and show human strength through adversity in shaping our personal response to the text.