Tim Winton Questions and Answers

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How does “The Demon Shark” link to human experiences?

You could claim that in “The Demon Shark,” Tim Winton links sharks to the predatory, exploitative part of the human experience. You might also argue there’s a lot of misguided fear with both sharks and humans. Additionally, you could claim that both sharks and humans are, at the end of the day, vulnerable and fragile creatures.

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You could argue Tim Winton links sharks to the human experience in the sense that both sharks and humans can be rather predatory. Remember, in his essay, Winton labels sharks the “secular substitute for the Devil.”

I don’t think you should argue that human beings in general are synonymous with Satan. Yet you could make the argument that, like sharks, the human experience is fraught with destruction and exploitation. As both current and past events indicate, humans have a tendency to behave violently towards their environment and towards one another.

Conversely, you could link “The Demon Shark” to some of the constructed fears that pervade the human experience. You could claim that humans are prone to fear one another, particularly if they have a different skin color or practice a different religion. You could also say that some people—political figures, business leaders, and so on—tangibly benefit from encouraging such fears.

The same could be said for sharks. There’s a part in the essay when Winton’s children ask him why God made sharks. Winton replies, “To sell newspapers.” He then adds, “When it comes to sharks, fear equals money.”

In other words, generating fears of humans and sharks seems to lead to affluence and power.

One more connection you could make between sharks and the human experience is vulnerability. Regardless of their imputed predatory nature, both remain fragile creatures. Winton writes that sharks have become more endangered than dolphins. He hints that there might come a day when sharks are extinct. There also might come a day when humans are extinct.

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