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On the Black Hill.

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Introduction

On the Black Hill i Long Essay By Carina Uehr "Our life is like a bubble. We are born. We float upwards. We are carried hither and thither by the breezes. We glitter in the sunshine. Then, all of a sudden, the bubble bursts and we fall to the earth as specks of moisture. We are these dahlias, cut down by the first frosts of autumn..." (p. 246) O n the Black Hill follows the lives of the Jones twins, from when they are first born until their bond is broken with Lewis' death. The novel explores their experiences and relationships with other characters, and how they are intertwined with these people and the landscape around them. Bruce Chatwin weaves a large tapestry of time, in which each pattern stands out but is still part of the one whole. Themes, settings, relationships and conflicts all contribute to this tapestry, the ultimate meaning of the novel. Two significant scenes that stand out in the pattern of meaning are the first chapter, and the Rhulen Fair. They explore the themes and conflicts of the novel, and Benjamin and Lewis' relationship with each other and their mother, the most important character in the novel after the twins. T he first chapter (p. 9 - 14 ) is not by strict definition a scene, but it carries a vital importance to the meaning of the novel. ...read more.

Middle

Yet this is healed and wiped away by the joy they get from seeing the Vision pass on to Kevin, and with it, their legacy. B enjamin and Lewis Jones are described in detail only after the setting and time are set. Understanding the Twin's characters is paramount to the meaning of the novel. It is their lives that On the Black Hill is centred around. Although identical twins in their youth, by the time we meet them, "...age and accidents had weathered them differently." "...Tall and stringy, with shoulders set square and a steady long-limbed stride...", Lewis is described as slightly puzzled in company, with glasses and "...a wonderful way with sheepdogs...". Benjamin, however, is "...shorter, pinker and shaper-tongued." He is a fierce haggler, and does "...all the cooking, the darning and the ironing." He also had control over the money. This fact would suggest that he is the dominant of the two, and the more "feminine". This fact is indeed very important to the meaning of the novel, as the relationship between the twins is a major theme. At this point, Chatwin throws in a further incognito statement: "On Saturday nights they took turns to have a hip-bath in front of the fire; and they lived for the memory of their mother." Mary Jones plays a crucial part in the novel, as her actions shape the lives of the Twins. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Lewis finds his brother, half frozen to death, Benjamin accuses him, "You left me." (p. 104) It seems as if Benjamin is punishing Lewis for leaving him, and blaming Lewis for his hurt. Perhaps this is a strategy for survival, for it is doubtful if Benjamin could live without his brother, even it is not the other way around. B enjamin and Lewis' relationship form a large part of the meaning of the novel, because it is through them that Chatwin introduces us into On the Black Hill. Understanding this relationship and the conflicts within it is vital to understanding the meaning of the novel. This relationship is strongly influenced by their mother Mary, whose selfish machinations affect both Lewis and Benjamin's lives and personalities. The Rhulen Fair explores both these issues, and thus gives an important insight to understanding the meaning of the novel. Although the first chapter also lightly touches on Mary's importance to the twins, it is not the only important issue investigated in this scene. It introduces some of the main themes, and sets the time and atmosphere of the novel. It also includes a defining paragraph which sets the entire theme and meaning of the novel. These two scenes are only a fraction of the countless threads woven together into the ultimate meaning of Chatwin's work. However, they can help us to gain a better understanding of this meaning, and to see and fully appreciate the true worth of this tapestry of time. ...read more.

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