David Malouf's novella Fly Away Peter is a narrative which questions essence. Its content entails many of Jean-Paul Satre's ideas on existentialism. Firstly that our existence precedes our essence, we are born as a "blank canvas" without purpose. This is in contrast to animals whose essence is purely instinctive. The second main idea is the existential life cycle; from perfection to innocence to awareness to dread to acceptance of our fait accompli, inevitable death. In a nutshell the moment we are expelled from the womb, is our "most perfect" form, "the blankest canvas", thereafter, life only approaches death regardless of any life choices. A state of "Blissful ignorance" succeeds, followed by cognition and the dread of inevitable death, finally its acceptance, then death itself. Malouf's succeeds in constructing a "good story" which made me think and accept the outlook, which in the words of Robert R. Diggs "We must accept, life is nothing more than animated death", through the application of plot structure, metaphors and binary opposites.
Fly away Peter plot structure is essentially the existential life cycle of Jim Saddler. The story begins with Jim happily admiring the nature he is “blissfully ignorant” of any problems of the world, yet early on we see him becoming cognisant as he questions human essence. Demonstrated through his actions of questioning and resenting his own father’s essence “Except for the accidental link of blood he saw nothing in common between his father and himself and resented the cowardly acceptance of defeat”. This conveys how humans even with close relations share no similar instinct, each has their own perspective on the essence of existence. This idea is capped just before Jim goes to war ““Why?” he asked in a last moment of innocence.” (Pg 36). In chapter nine, the first chapter to be set in Europe, Jim is compared to Clancy. Clancy is a man who has already realise the fait accompli, where Jim is the binary opposite, he is in...
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