Settings and narrative

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Settings and narrative conventions can be used to shape meaning within a story. In Tim Winton's Australian classic Cloudstreeet this obscure thing called love is explored through geographical, physical, chronological and social settings with characters and plot to shape the meaning in this complex, yet insightful story.

The story takes place in the remote state of Western Australia, a place where there is plenty of room for growth.

In the barely dimpled surface of country, the wheat is its own map, neat and dogmatic in its boundaries. You can see the sun in it, the prodigal rain, the magic tons of superphosphate. From ground level, the wheat is the whole world, but in the air, or beyond air and sky, the wheatbelt is just that, a scrap of land surrounded by the rest of the world.

The above quote is spoken by Quick in reference to the Australian landscape in which the story is set and how this relates to the issues experienced by the families on Cloudstreet. According to my interpretation Winton is making a social commentary on human nature. When faced with a problem people think our world is over, the individuals' views narrow and we become more self-centred. People can only see the "wheat" in front of them, leaving us naive to the bigger picture. As time goes on we learn and mature from our suffering and eventually we gain empathy, compassion and understanding of one another. If we continue with this wheat belt metaphor you could say as time goes on we literally grow, thus gaining a wider view of life. The events that took place in Cloudstreet did not change the world, however it changed their lives forever.

Australia has been renown for its harsh landscapes; this is symbolic of the lives of those involved in Cloudstreet. Winton chose the story to be set in Western Australia because of the deceiving looks of the landscape. The terrain looks quite desolate and uninviting. However it is now common knowledge that Western Australia is quite rich in natural resources, the richest in Australia. So basically the physical setting is an example of the deception of looks, and how our appearance does not define us. This is relevant to the characters as we discover later in the book the majority of them are genuinely good people, it just took time for them to discover this. I quote upon a famous Australian poet Dorotha MacKellar in her poem, My Country.

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I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of drought and flooding rains,

MacKellar portrays Australia as grotesque country with an enigmatic characteristic that draws us to it. As an Australian I can honestly say I have grown to love this wretched country, similar to the way in which the Pickle's and Lamb's grew to love each other.

Australia is indeed isolated, but not isolated enough to ignore the effects of the war. The main event during the chronological setting was World War Two. After the war people changed, rather, secret aspects of their ...

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