This short passage, taken from the story ‘The Water was Dark and it went forever Down’ from Tim Winton’s anthology ‘Minimum of Two’ Winton explores the themes of normality, isolation and self devaluation. The passage plays out through the eyes of a young girl who appears as strong minded yet broken from events of the past, almost like a bystander in her own life. This passage betrays a strong sense of suffering on both mental and physical and also hints to larger themes of caged existence and the recurring theme in the anthology, of a minimum of two. It is through the use of nature that Winton develops his key ideas and sends more powerful messages in this text.
The curve of the bay in the first line gives the idea that she is enclosed, trapped inside this tiny area of land that she can’t escape which inturn only enhance the idea of the small island that’s off shore and almost portrayed as an unreachable haven for the girl who’s life in this town has always been marred by the past with her troubled mother’s issues or the abandonment of her father. The use of the environment in this passage is very typical of the work Winton does using the environment to reflect the feelings and emotions of the characters, particularly those emotions that are sadder or more discrete.
The characterisation of the girls mother in the second paragraph is another technique Winton has used to explain the girl, instead of having all the information laid out for us he is giving it to the audience to see the events from the girls point of view forcing individual conclusions to be made. This paragraph also reflects of the girls idea of ‘normal’ which is clearly a social depiction of normality as everything she mentions can be related back to how society views one should look, behave and feel. Evidently when the girls thinks “stay out of mental hospitals, save for some special surgery… God be normal” she struggles with the idea that her ‘family’ is not normal and this is inturn affecting her, an idea which is shown further on in the passage when she talks about her self as if she is not like everyone else, “the others” as she refers to them.
Comparison is another technique that Winton relies on and is very evident in this text and the way that Winton compares the girls trapped existence at home and then move straight onto the landscape that is trapping in itself emphasizes the point. From a sixth floor window you can see everything that’s happening around but the person who is doing watching is completely excluded from it all. This thought is compared to that of the ‘humped dunes’ that surrounded the edge of town creating a very similar image. Another way Winton compared these two images was through their actions. The way the girl ‘slunk’ back to her house gave the impressing that she did not want to be there whilst the dunes ‘threatened’ at the edge of town forever enclosing.
In the final section of the excerpt the idea that the girl sees herself as an outsider is very obvious, as is the theme of self devaluation. “she’s gonna drive me crazy” is the first time that the girl actually speaks and it mirrors her desire to be normal and fear of turning into her mother who has only every been an obstacle in her life. The way she refers to the other girls as the ‘others’ and to her self as a machine highlights that again. The girls description of swimming is not like a job but still something that she has to do, that is important for her survival, it represents her escape, her way out of this life that she hates so much and that is why she clings to it.
The more that the girl thinks about her past the more she becomes different to the ‘others’ but also the more it helps her to eventually become an engine and to become free.