Why Is Tim Winton’s Novel, Cloudstreet Worthy of Critical Study?

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Tim Winton’s iconic Australian novel, Cloudstreet has been highly regarded by audiences as a text of great value. Its resilience is a direct consequence of its ability to appeal to readers regardless of personal context. This is because Cloudstreet explores universal values relevant to modern society. By appreciating and developing a deeper understanding of Winton’s promotion of spiritual wholeness and quintessential Australian setting, it is possible to reflect back on that novel as a symbolic representation of personal identity. Published in 1991, this epic saga follows the lives of two contrasting families, the Lambs and the Pickles, over the decades of 1940-1960. Despite the large time aperture, the text’s unity of values, artistry and strength as reflected in its intricate plot and convoluted albeit believable characters is axiomatic due to its textual integrity and enduring power.

Winton uses the “Shifty Shadow” as a reoccurring motif that relies heavily on the concept of spirituality. Most notably, the commonality of biblical allusions and metaphysical manifestations evolve the backbone of the novel. This central theme is a significant notion to Sam Pickles ever since he inherits it from his father and upbringing. This “erudition” satirises the ideology of conventional religion and represents a supernatural connection that exists in the daily hardships of life. He also calls it the “hairy hand of god”, metaphorically establishing its mystic and unfathomableness. Winton further reinforces this theme during significant events. However, Winton exploits the character’s naiveté, so it may largely go unnoticed, hence elaborating the dogma of the “Shifty Shadows”. This evocative use of language challenges the readers about the nature of humanity and its identity.

In complement to the “shifty shadows”, is the idea of displacement from a place of belonging. The setting isn’t just a place, it’s where the characters are attached to and destined to be. For most...
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