" "Fly Away Peter" charts Jim's loss of innocence as he confronts the brutality of war and the truth about human nature." DISCUSS.
"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow" - ECCLESIASTES 1:18.
David Malouf's "Fly Away Peter" is the story of one man's loss of innocence, as he confronts the brutality of human nature during the First World War. Through the central character's voyage of realization, the reader is confronted with a deeply philosophical approach to the meaning of life and death. Whilst on the surface appearing very simplistic and straightforward, multiple themes are intertwined in the framework of the narrative. Jim Saddler's journey of self-discovery provides a vehicle for the author to deliver his powerful messages portraying the transient nature of human existence. Specifically, it is demonstrated through Jim's experiences in relation to the insignificance of individual life, the inevitability of death and the unstoppable movement of time. .
His profound use of metaphor centers particularly on bird life, cycles of nature, and the Divine. His depiction of Australia as Heaven, and Europe as Hell, and his insinuation that Jim Saddler is like Adam in his Garden of Eden, illustrate the innocence of the protagonist. The novel traces this innocence, and its subsequent movement to experience, using Jim Saddler as an example of a regular Australian whose tranquil existence is disrupted by the intrusion of World War 1. .
The naive and innocent Jim Sadler is a stereotypical working class Australian youth at the beginning of the twentieth century. Through his acceptance of the wealthy land owner, Ashley Crowther's, offer of a job observing birds on his property, Jim is presented with security and a "sanctuary" in which he feels comfortable and safe - to the extent where he finds himself "living in a state of dangerous innocence." For Ashley, what is a seemingly trivial offer is a significant turning point in Jims" life, providing Jim with, for the first time, direction and purpose.