Our study on Telling Stories has made me aware that composers tell stories to entertain and to convey their ideas. Henry Lawson’s short stories ‘The Drover’s Wife’ and ‘The Loaded Dog’, demonstrate these twin features. Cat Steven’s life story the ABC documentary ‘A Few Good Songs,’ is designed to convey the idea that telling stories is a powerful catalyst for reflection on the unpredictability of life and the individual’s desire for self-fulfilment.
In our prescribed text, ‘The Drover’s Wife’, by using an anonymous bush woman as his protagonist, Lawson extends his narrative beyond the story of a particular individual, to encompass the stories of all such women. The narrative emphasizes their fierce independence as they battle a hostile environment to ensure their survival and the survival of their families. The harshness of their environment is established in the opening paragraphs through the cumulation of negative visual and auditory images such as ‘The stunted, rotten apple trees’ and ‘a few sheoaks….sighing above the narrow, almost waterless creek’. The harshness si similarly reflected in the adjectives which describe ‘four ragged, dried-up looking children’ and ‘the gaunt sun-browned woman’. Thus by linking the environment to its inhabitants, Lawson’s omniscient third-person narrator shapes our understanding that the unique Australian traits of resilience and courage are the product of an interaction with a hostile environment. The repetition of ‘black’ in ‘a black one’ and in the alliterative ‘black brute’ reflect the white colonial perspective of danger and evil. Further reinforcing the horrifying realism of the dangers is the onomatopoeic repletion of ‘thud, thud’ and the biblical allusion in ‘the original curse’ to convey the wilderness to which the woman and her children have been exiled. The negative connotations of ‘worn-out’ and ‘sickly’ remind us that Lawson’s narrative has created a bush world of ceaseless struggle, a world where...
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