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What Is the Importance of the Environment in “Walkabout”?

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James Sayer 11A2 04 September 2002 What Is the Importance of the Environment in "Walkabout"? In the novel "Walkabout", the environment is of prime importance. The children have very little knowledge of how to deal with it, after all, the lifestyle was a "far cry from their comfortable home in Charleston, South Carolina." The environment was so alien to the children and they did not fully understand the dangers. The children were very young and unqualified to realise the fact that the plane would be noticed missing, and that a search party would surely be sent to investigate the scene of the crash. Probably the worst thing the children could have done was to leave the crash site. Another, more foolish thing to do was set off unaided to reach Adelaide, a city over 1400 miles away. The sheer vastness of the outback was so foreign to the children; there was no time before that they had had to walk over ten miles a day just to survive. ...read more.


The key event in the story was the arrival of the bush boy: "Unless he the looked after them, the children would die, that was for sure." Both the bush boy and the American children were quickly aware of this fact, and Peter pleaded desperately for help. The bush boy shows the children everything they need to know to survive in the desert, the means to hunt and forage for food, and how to locate water. The aboriginal showed them the most comfortable places to travel, "under the shade of the heartleaves where it was mercifully cool; far cooler than it would be in the desert." This shade also helped them to travel at a steady pace. He showed them how to catch the fish in the billabongs; they picked up boulders, "and hurled them into the pool." This stunned the fish, and "upside-down, they came floating to the surface", where they could easily be collected. He also taught them to follow the Pardalote bird, as it always leads to water, and the importance of tracking animals, the bush boy "found the claw marks of a food searching bird," he followed them and found many eggs. ...read more.


They are astounded by the amazing variety of colours of butterfly they found resting on the side of a rock face, and on one occasion halt they're journey in order to watch and listen to a lyrebird: "On and on it went; wave after wave of perfect harmony that held the children spellbound." Later on when the children reach the valley-of-waters-under-the-earth, the intensity and variety of wildlife amazes them: "The children stared at the birds, wandered among them, watched and observed them with a wonderment that increased with every day", and were intrigued at the brulgas' "ritualistic like dance"; also the strange way in which many of the animals captured prey, such as the antlion and the fisherman-spider. I feel that it was not the lack of food and water that was the problem to the children's survival, but the lack of knowledge in acquiring it. This all changed with the arrival of the Aboriginal boy. Peter's inquisitive nature and eagerness to learn at this stage was key in ensuring that the children had the means to survive once the bush boy died. By this time they had learnt enough however, and soon "both children had fallen into his ways". ...read more.

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