Just as Confucius stated, that we need to do to understand, so to does Jim Saddler, the protagonist of the novel, realises that he must go to war and experience it for himself to gain a better understanding of things. Jim comes to understand a number of things during the novel Fly Away Peter by David Malouf, set on the peaceful Gold Coast before, and in war torn Europe during World War One. Jim comes to understand that in order to comprehend why things change he must experience them for himself, and that the different things he experiences also change him. He also comes to understand life's continuity and life's transience. .
As Jim is learns more of the war, he decides that in order to understand why everything has changed after the war he would have to go himself. Jim is a self-assured man and prefers to know things for himself. This is evident in the fact that he uses the field glasses, provided by Jim's friend and boss Ashley Crowther, to capture the birds in his focus so that he is able to completely understand them for himself. Jim felt the ground tilting to the place where the war was (pg55) and he feels that he must slide with the rest (pg55) so that he can understand the changes caused by war. Jim comes to the conclusion that in order to understand the war as he understood the birds by looking through the field glasses, he must go to the war and experience it himself. .
Not only does Jim realise that the world changes, but he too changes. Jim comes to understand that by going to war he will know why and how he has changed. If he had decided not to go he would spend the rest of his life looking into the eyes of others to find out (pg55) what had happened to him. Jim is a man of self-understanding and he does not want to have to look to others to tell him who is. He wants to know for himself who he is.
Jim also comes to understand things on a greater level, as well as an individual level.