Henry Lawson conveys distinctively visual experiences in his short stories through techniques such as imagery, tone, personal reflection, language and style. The use of language and the development of characters in Lawson’s short stories create distinctively visual images to position the reader to correctly interpret the text and shape their understanding. ‘The Drover’s Wife’ and ‘In a Dry Season’ demonstrate Lawson’s skill in clearly reflecting distinctive Australian voices and a distinctive rural feel and experience through visualisations. These two short stories along with ‘The suitcase’ by Shaun Tan, effectually communicate the issues of isolation, hardship and the environment to the audience.
The theme of isolation is thoroughly explored in the short story ‘The Drover’s Wife’, through the use of present tense, third person narrative voice and direct speech. ‘The Drover’s Wife’ comprises of a dual narrative, alternating between two stories within itself, that of a pioneering bush woman and the killing of the snake. The use of descriptive language in the opening paragraph immediately encourages the responder to visualise the setting of a ‘two-roomed house’ constructed with ‘round timber, slabs and stringy bark’. The continuation of the scene setting could have ended, however, Lawson proceeds to describe the negativity and isolation that the bush presents with the use of alliteration - ‘No undergrowth. Nothing to relieve the eye... Nineteen miles to the nearest sign of civilisation’. The repetition of the letter ‘n’ emphasises the detached and isolated world in which the drover’s wife and her children exist. The inclusion of the limitless ‘travel’ motif in ‘That monotony that makes a man longing to break away, travel as far as a train can go, sail as far as ships can sail’ imposes the monotonous, powerful setting of the outbacks landscape and the alienation of its inhabitants.
‘In a Dry Season’, immerses the responder in a world of endless monotony through the imagery of a boundless, scorching landscape, showing the isolation of locations through the repetitive images. A hyperbole is used to help the audience visualise the isolated communities. ‘Then you’ll have the bush along the New South Wales Western Line from Bathurst on’ exaggerates the idea of the outback appearing vast and mundane. The experience of isolation is commonly undertaken by outback dwellers and is explored through the language of ‘In a Dry Season’, particularly the technique of vernacular language in which Lawson commonly uses. Western New South Wales occupants are portrayed by the use of vernacular language such as ‘yer wanter’ helping the responder envision the country people through the dialect in which they speak creating a distinctive voice.
Distinctively visual images, particularly pertaining to the theme of isolation, include ‘The Suitcase’ by Shaun Tan. The initial impression of the drawing is created by the deliberately limited palette of sepia tones. The absence of colour immediately reflects the dull and mudane mood of the drawing, one of despair, sorrow and pessimism which is also apparent in the two protagonists faces conveying a loss of hope from the isolation that is yet to come. Symbols amongst the drawing also help convey isolation to the responder. The consistent spacing of the objects along the shelf create a repetitive feel of isolation, subconsciously conveying to the viewer the segregated feel of the drawing. The strategically placed clock positioned between the two protagonists represents the idea of time passing amidst the two, separating them from each other and reinforcing the idea of isolation.
Hardship is another theme apparent throughout ‘The Drover’s...