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Fly Away Peter - What does Jim learn from the War?

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Introduction

What does Jim Learn from his experiences of war? In the novel, "Fly Away Peter," the character Jim's entire vision of life changes from the moment the war enters his life. As well as him learning of possibilities entirely new to him, Jim's view of life and an individuals place in it develops through his experiences in Europe. In this essay, I will explore the discoveries that Jim makes over time on his journey from the sanctuary that is Australia into unknown hell of the war, and how he makes the change from a youth at the start of the novella to a man who feels "immeasurably old." At the start of the novella, Jim's view of the world is limited. Australia is a womb like sanctuary to him - a seemingly timeless place that both changes and always remains the same, where Jim is protected from the harsh realities of life and can pursue his love of birds. The land is literally a sanctuary for the birds but also a sanctuary for him. Jim holds the birds in wonderment: they are so small and could be crushed by him without him thinking, yet they are able to see the entire world in their tiny eyes and store in their mind a map of this world, so that when they next migrate, they can remember their way. ...read more.

Middle

However, these could not compare to what he is about to learn in the trenches. Jim learns that each soldier has a nickname which sets them apart form the rest just as the birds' names differentiate each species, but that it is all of these individuals that make up the whole: "They were "men" in some larger generals "plan." They were also "Spud, Snow, Skeeter, Blue and Tommo." His mate, Clancy, gives him new confidence and helps him overcome his inhibitions, thereby enabling him to do things that "he would never have done on his own." Clancy has a "List" that allows him to keep the old life alive in the new one. Later in the story, Jim finds himself needing to observe and identify the birds once again in his "Book," simply because it keeps his past life alive in the present, and therefore removes the "line between the past and what was to come." The world that Jim was sheltered from at the start of his life is made very clear to him when he enters the front line. He learns that "he had been blind" to the true brutality that man inflicts upon himself. Because Jim has been sheltered, he believes the violent and poisonous nature of his father as well as his brother's tragic death are simply faults and that they do not in any way represent the otherwise tranquil world. ...read more.

Conclusion

needs to return to the time that exists outside of the war, in which the man and the birds are living: "They had fallen, he and his contemporaries, into a dark pocket of time from which there was no escape." He realizes that the war is on another level of life, a lower level and that the birds and the local man exist above this level: "There were so many worlds. They were all continuously with one another and went on simultaneously: that farmer's world, intent on his business with his hoe; his own world, committed to bringing these men up in battle; their worlds, each one, about which he could only guess." Through these experiences of war, Jim is able to bring that blurred view of the blades of grass into focus through the perspective he gains from experience. Jim learns about the physical world, in which there are terrible evils from which he was sheltered during his time growing up in Australia and the fact that "he had been living in a state of dangerous innocence." He also becomes aware that there are so many different levels of meaning and existence and that although the individuals who make up these levels are lost in overall continuum of time and change, without this individuality, there would be no process at all. ...read more.

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