Fly Away Peter, David Malouf

1028 words 5 pages
Fly Away Peter
In what ways does David Malouf use interesting literary techniques in Fly Away Peter to explore ideas and themes?

“Two little dickie birds,
Sitting on a wall;
One named Peter,
One named Paul.
Fly away Peter!
Fly away Paul!
Come Back Peter!
Come Back Paul!”

Throughout ‘Fly Away Peter’ Malouf utilises a variety of literary techniques such as contrast, Imagery, Symbolism and foreshadowing to portray ideas and themes. The title ‘Fly Away Peter’ makes reference to the traditional English nursery rhyme ‘Two Little Dickie Birds’. Moulaf utilises this nursery rhyme to make the connection between themes within ‘Fly Away Peter’ and everyday life.

“Two little dickie birds, Sitting on a wall;” These opening
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The descriptive language used shows the contrast between the two locations. Moulaf describes the sanctuary using phrases such as “wooded country beyond” and “silvery scrub” in comparison to the description of the war; “The air was tormented” and “Deadly”.
The war is over-run with rats, which are seen as creatures of evil, where as the sanctuary is full of birds which are creatures of the sky.
Moulaf also uses the cattle trucks to symbolise how the soldiers were treated. The trucks had a sign which read “eight horses or forty men” meaning the army treated the soldiers as if they were as replicable as cattle. The cattle trucks also took the cattle to the abattoir, likewise the cattle truck is taking the majority of the soldiers to their death.

The rhyme itself is a cycle, the birds fly away and come back again “Come back Peter! Come back Paul!”. With the religious understanding and interpretation of the novel the coming back is returning to heaven, however the coming back can also be related to the quote at the beginning of the book, where it talks about “the stone will be our bed”, the returning is being buried in the earth. Moulaf introduces the theme of digging early in the novel, however this motif is used when Jim is dying. During war digging symbolises a grave, and after a long exposure to war Jim assumes digging has to be for a grave “a grave it must be”. During Jim’s stream of consciousness before his death he meets Clancy, the first hint that Jim has