Can you analyse  the novel Cloudstreet by Tim Winton?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Literary analysis requires detailed examination of all the principle components of a work. This includes theme, literary devices, dialogue, diction and vocabulary, structure, setting, plot, and, if desired, historical context, which may be reflected in the setting. Such a detailed examination is not possible in this forum, but I can discuss some of the most interesting components.

Firstly, to quickly mention structure, the story is told with overlapping chronology that includes flashbacks. For instance, in the exposition (opening) of the story, we are with Rose at the close of the day with the sun setting somewhere in the Pacific or other westerly ocean, "the sun was in the sea," and she is talking about a foreboding "shadow." Next, we are with Sam on an island some unspecified day at dawn, and he awakes to a foreboding "shifty shadow of God," which indicates this came before Rose's evening. He calls the shadow luck (although he and his father do not say the word "luck") and introduces a flashback. This discussion also illustrates that the point of view is alternating limited third person beginning with Rose, then alternating to Sam etc.

Secondly, the setting is revealed in bits and pieces that provide a growing list of clues as to time and location. These are some of the first clues revealed about the setting:

-woollen bathing suit
-evening light ... Fishing boats were coming in ... for the night
-Norfolk pines
-the sun was in the sea
-Champion Bay
-out in the islands
-Not the war ....
-Japanese soldier

The "woollen bathing suit" places the time somewhere in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries while the "Japanese soldier," and "Not the war" narrow the time to during World War II. Further, "the sun in the sea," "Champion Bay," "out in the islands" place the location on a western coastline with islands near at hand.

Two prominent literary devices are foreshadowing ("knew something bad was going to happen") and word plays: "She suffered for her lifelong inability to be a man." Still, some of the most interesting components have to do with dialogue, diction and vocabulary. One notes immediately that unorthodox stylistics are chosen as there is no comma leading into speech nor quotation marks around the speech ending the first paragraph:

She stood up and called.
Ted! Chub! Carn, it's late!

Further, the characters often speak in indirect dialogue, and they speak in a dialect of English rather than in Standard English. The latter results in some idiosyncratic punctuation and grammar:

  • Ted, who was a year older than her ...
  • Well, she wondered, I bet he's squirmin out there now, out on the islands, feelin this dark luck comin on.
  • nah, this one hasn't got me number on it. Today's not me day.

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