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Fly Away Peter Essay, Research Paper

?Human beings desire order but have to confront chaos?. How is this explored in Fly Away Peter?Fly Away Peter?s binary structure enables it to explore the conflicting natures of order and chaos. The juxtaposition of ideas that threads through the novel to set up many opposites conveys to the reader the way in which human beings must confront difficulty in order to broaden their world view and enhance their journey towards self-discovery. Malouf uses the characters as vehicles for the exploration of ideas, with Jim?s personal journey the focus for many themes. Jim goes from the idyllic sanctuary to the front of war in order to come to an understanding of the world and his place in it. As the novel progresses, he continually expands his outlook by coming to terms with the unnatural act of war as well as a darker side of himself.

With the imminent chaos of war looming, Jim, Ashley and Imogen find order and security in the peaceful Queensland marshes. With Ashley having provided him with a purpose, Jim is content for a while in his newfound position and friends. The natural world follows a set pattern, and is appreciated by all three in their own way. Jim finds a superiority in the timeless quality of nature, Ashley ?respects? the ?primitive power? of the Australian bush, and Imogen has found an inner contentment in wildlife photography. At this point in the novel, Imogen in particular has confronted disorder, and in upending her life has become much more accepting of difference. Jim?s Book also exposes the human being?s desire for order. It pleases both he and Ashley, and is something he keeps going even when the chaos of war has intruded upon his life.

Jim?s trip to Brisbane heralds his ?fall from innocence?, as he begins to experience the ?real? world. He guesses that this war ?might, after all, be serious?, and sees that his life has, in a strange way, changed forever. Amid the hysteria, Jim feels inexorably drawn towards involvement in the war. The metaphor of a tilting slope suggests the inevitability of this. With pressure increasing on Jim to join up, it is not his father?s envy or coercion that finally decides the issue, nor is it a question of patriotism. Rather, Jim acknowledges to himself the need to extend his knowledge of life in the face of the inexorable changes war would bring. He felt he had to go to war, ?otherwise he would never understand?why his life and everything he had known were so changed?and nobody would be able to tell him?. This realization that he would have to confront and adapt to change, regardless of how happy he had been with the order of the sanctuary, supports the idea that human beings do indeed have to confront chaos in order to enhance their understanding of the world.

Malouf further develops this idea in Jim?s encounter with Wizzer. The military world is strange and new to Jim, ?it was as if he had?arrived at the dark side of his head, and got stuck there?. The brutish Wizzer?s bullying causes Jim to become aware of his own capacity for ?black anger?. However, ?enemies, like friends, told you who you were?, and Wizzer is significant because of what he reveals to Jim of his own character. The confrontation brings out another side of Jim that he dislikes, for he associates such violence with his father. Thereafter he avoids Wizzer, admitting that he does not wish ?to be confronted with some depth in himself?that frightened him and that he didn?t understand?. Although this decision is contrary to the ideal that we must confront such chaos in our lives, this is remedied by Jim?s second encounter with Wizzer while he cowers in a shell-hole. Jim is shaken by Wizzer?s assumption that the two men are actually ?two of a kind?, and finally overcomes the dark side of himself that Wizzer has shown him. ?Some sense of shame ? for Wizzer, but also for himself ? held him back from that and made it impossible for him to slip away?. Jim faces up to his cowardice, and making his way back to the lines, feels himself ?delivered into his own hands again, clean and whole?. An amalgam of his past experiences, Jim is no longer trapped by fear, and through confronting his dark side he has escaped it. He has regained his personal integrity, again enforcing the proposal that human beings need to confront the disorder in their lives. His encounter with Wizzer is a broadening experience for Jim, and an exposing element on his journey.

Jim?s journey towards self-discovery and an expanded view of the world allow him to develop a nobility before his death. Through his confrontation of chaotic interruptions in his life, in spite of his desire for order, he has come to a deeper understanding of himself. Jim has lost much of his naivety and innocence through his war experience, yet it has so enriched his perspective that upon nearing his death, he feels a merging with nature, and can now accept individual life as an equal part in all the lives of fellow living creatures. All life seems relative to Jim, as the map in his head is ?immensely expanded?. Jim is an ordinary human being, who through his journey conveys what it is to be fully human. Facing up to challenges, even in the context of the ?madness? of war, brings Jim to a far deeper understanding of life than he ever would have achieved at home in Queensland.

Jim, Malouf?s key vehicle for the exploration of his ideas, broadens his outlook through his experiences in the novel. Although it is obvious that Jim far prefers order to the tumult of war, the reader comes to understand that it is necessary for him to confront the chaos he encounters, so enforcing the ideal that all human beings must face challenge if they are to come to a better understanding of life. Imogen?s reflections in the final chapter show that she too, through confronting the disorder in her life, has gained an enhanced perspective of the world. Wizzer, though he aids Jim?s journey to self-acknowledgment, does not himself confront chaos, and is subsequently left behind. The very binary structure of the novel suggests the necessity of facing difficulties. The inevitable progression from the sanctuary to the war enforces the notion that no matter how much we desire order, we all must confront chaos. Chiefly Jim, but also Imogen, Ashley, Wizzer and the very context of the story are exemplary of Malouf?s exploration of this concept through his theme, the journey of life.


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