The sample essay on Cloudstreet deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
Cloudstreet, written by Tim Winton, has all the requirements and qualities of a text with textual integrity. Textual integrity consists of structure, form and language which create a meaning. Cloudstreet is a family saga which employs a generally linear and sometimes circular structure. It meets the criteria of a saga in two ways.
Firstly, it takes place over 4 generations, and even though the oldest generation is only embodied through memories and dreams it does help the narrative achieve resolution by bringing the reader closer to the Cloudstreet characters.
Secondly the novel takes place over 25 years and speaks of events that actually took place in the time the novel was set; WWII, Nedlands Murders. Through Winton’s use of chapters and sub headings the readers do not notice time passing but the important details instead.
The structure is mostly linear but there are times which incorporate flashbacks or are in dream-mode. These modes are important for the reader to fully understand each character and their way of thinking. It is important that past events be recognised as they are an essential part of the story.
Such is when Quick is out shooting roos and Fish comes to him in a “Harvey oranges” box with “tomato stakes” for oars. “Across the still waters of the sunburnt crop wherein lies Quick Lamb breathing without help… He took my bloody dog” (page 201).
This shows that the water essence is always with each character. The fact that the house was originally inhabited by Indigenous girls who subsequently were abused, helps the reader to understand why ‘Spiritual Fish’ hears the house breathing and crying and how he talks to ‘dark ghosts’. All of Winton’s characters are restless and seek meaning in a world where an explanation isn’t easy to find.
Their dialogue defines their class of people; the characters use idioms like ‘carn’ in place of ‘come on’ and the recognisable events such as the Nedlands Murders give the text, textual integrity. Winton creates viable, believable and realistic characters by using dialogue, specific language techniques and point of view. Winton uses multiple narrators; Omniscient, stream of consciousness (Fish, Oriel) and interior monologue (Rose, Lester). It’s Fish’s spiritual narration that lets the reader in on otherwise inaccessible information which is unattainable from the other often inarticulate characters.
Inarticulateness, Australian vernacular and alcoholism, were Australian traits evident in many novels and plays written about Post-War Australia such as “The Touch of Silk” by Betty Roland and “Summer of the Seventeenth Doll” by Ray Lawler. This shows Cloudstreet was a true depiction of Post-War, poorly educated, working class, Aussie battlers and shows its viability and textual integrity. Winton enhances the textual integrity of his novel by giving the characters distinctly Australian qualities and they fit the Western Australian war time period they are placed in.
The characters are all laconic and use colloquialisms such as that on page 399; “Lon Lamb has taken a sickie off work” Dolly is sarcastic and cynical. When Sam lost his fingers all Dolly could say was; “His bloody working hand. A man could hardly pick his nose with a thumb and half a pointer. They were done for; stuffed, cactus. Thank you, Lady Luck, you rotten slut. ” Winton’s Character’s carefully chosen names evoke an image into the reader’s mind of what the character should be. These ideas are immediately vanquished.
Take Rose, a rose is a delicate flower with fine features and a beautiful aura but Rose Pickles is a hateful woman, though beautiful she is spiteful and hard. Dolly is just like her daughter, in that she is hardened. Dolly is also an alcoholic and sex-crazed woman who spends most of her time at the pub drinking and vying for male attention. These two strong women contradict their pleasant names and also hate each other. Fish, like the creatures, observe the immeasurable depths of experience and all he can think about is the river. The surnames of the two Cloudstreet families are Pickles and Lamb.
A club sandwich with so many characteristics all piled under the same roof of Cloudstreet. Cloudstreet is written using a paradox. Although Fish is intellectually disabled he is the main narrator in the book. Once favourite, who after the accident became “stuck somewhere… like he’s half in and half out”. “Not all of Fish had come back” and in his half state of life he’s become a spiritually liberated and insightful being. His refusal to acknowledge his mother’s presence is ironic because it if wasn’t for her stubborn and sheer will power Fish would never have come back at all.
Winton uses symbolism and themes (the black man, house and river) as a central part of Cloudstreet, especially the river. All the major life changing events take place at the river; Fish drowns then gets brought back to life, Rose and Quick acquaint themselves, Quick and his mother open up to each other and then finally Fish dies there. The setting has been given life by Winton as he explores Australia. He uses personification to show a connectedness between humanity and the land. He also uses personification when he writes about the house that “moans and groans” with the lost souls of the indigenous Australians.
The house along with the river is the place where everything starts and finishes (circular structure). The house brings the two families together and it’s the place where the two families really are brought together when Quick and Rose make love to each other and Dolly and Lester have sex. Fish also understands the room that nobody else can bear to enter. He hears the house crying at night and he feels its pain. Winton also in a way personifies the pig. There is no real reason for the pig except comical relief but Fish understands it, for it’s his spiritual side that allows this.
The pig speaks in its own tongue – much like the Glossolalia of Pentecost in the New Testament. Another biblical reference. Cloudstreet has many biblical over-tones such as: The Lamb’s are believers in the bible, Beryl, and even a sub heading, “Disciples” on page 247 relates to the bible. Another theme Winton explores is women and men in this time. Australia was a male centred society and the values of women were restricted to their sexuality and ability to be nurturers. Dolly and Oriel have opposing views about the men in their lives.
Dolly desires the men’s attention where Oriel battles through life despite men. The women are the ‘rock’ in the unstable lives of their families, they shape the children, and men and make everything function while the men create predicaments and problems. Oriel and Dolly; however different their views, are the symbols of the ‘plight of women’ in a manly world. Beyond Cloudstreet lies a world that is male orientated, where within the walls of their home, everything is shaped by women. The men live in their past and memories and are largely unaware of the real world around them.
E. G: Lester relieves his glories at the ANZAC club. Although when an emergency arises, the men find the answers because they are ‘spur-of-moment’ characters. Such is when Lester lends Sam money for his debt. The men may be good with physical encounters but they make themselves scarce for emotion catastrophes. Cloudstreet has textual integrity. It does not chop and change its ideals throughout the novel and its main themes stay the same. Everything Cloudstreet entails is true and viable. There is no doubt that Cloudstreet has textual integrity.