Cloudstreet is the story of two families struggling to make ends meet in a run down house in Perth during the twenty years after World War II. It is a book about community that stirs deep hungers for belonging.
Fish Lamb's Sadness Radar
The significance of the title of this chapter is shown in the opening sentences. "Quick Lamb reads the paper every day and sees the long lists of the missing believed killed, and the notices in memoriam for sons and fathers and brothers. The war's over, he knows, but he picks up sadness like he's got a radar for it."
We are introduced to the 'poor kids' that Quick sees at school. They are brothers, Wogga & Darren McBride. He notices that they have a strange way of eating their lunch, and he watches them every day at school. "... he knows what he's begun to suspect - Wogga McBride and his brother aren't eating anything at all; they're just pretending.
Out of pride, they're going through the motions of unwrapping, passing, commenting on, eating food that doesn't exist."
Quick notices that he has never heard the 2 brothers laughing. One day he sits on a wall and watches them walk across the field and over the railway line on their way home, and he notices them playing with a stray dog and laughing. He's surprised to hear them laugh, so he watches them, and reveals, "he wants to go down there with them and run that dog ragged with them. Oh, the laughter, even over the sound of the train."
Wogga McBride stumbles onto the train tracks and is killed by the train. This event disturbs Quick, to hear the sound of him getting hit, and to hear the screaming of Wogga's younger brother. Quick "...