'Fly Away Peter' is essentially a story about life. Through the life of Jim Saddler the reader becomes aware of the ideas posed by the author, David Malouf. Jim's life, if anything, is indeed a journey, unfolding through various broadening experiences that lead to Jim's eventual understanding of the world and his own self. However, to simply say that this understanding is enhanced solely by his contact with those around him is only true to a certain extent. Jim's journey of life exists on many levels, just one of which is the lessons he learns through his contact with others.
A strong note emphasised throughout the novel is Jim's detachment. During the establishment of his relationship with Ashley, and his decision to join the war, 'Jim existed in a world of his own, not withdrawn exactly, but impenetrably private'. Ever the lone wolf, Jim keeps the events in his life at arm's length, remaining distant and observing his world in his own unique way.
The retiring, introspective Jim notes he has no close friends, though calling Clancy a 'mate'. Even the horrors of war fail to make Jim see the world as others do. He admits his naivety, confessing that'he had been living, till he came here, in a state of dangerous innocence'. Jim acknowledges how his new experiences have indeed opened his eyes to the real world, but as yet he has not reached his eventual understanding of self.
The bond between Jim, Ashley and Imogen is founded on their mutual respect for, and love of, the bird life in the sanctuary. There is certainly no doubt that Jim and Ashley are brought together by their appreciation of nature. Ashley has 'a quiet respect for the things Jim also respected', and the reader is made aware...