The Divine Wind

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The Divine Wind is not only the story of Hart's personal journey; it also charts racial and social issues of Australia in the 1940's.

By Kane Fry The journey from being a boy to becoming a man is no easy journey, let alone in a town like Broome. The Divine Wind is not just a story of one such boy, Hart Penrose; it is the story of Broome in general. It was the array of life that could be found nowhere else in the world "“ a place where the Pearlers met in the bars at night, where the children sat around in tin sheds turned into a cinema and where dreams were made "“ and forgotten.

How do Broome and Hart mix? They interact with each other, the character with the setting, and the setting with the character. Let's take an outside look at Hart. He is a strong boy, in both will and physical strength.

Yet despite that, he is still just a boy. His mother longs for England, his father for the shore "“ his sister somewhere in between. But what happens between then and manhood is remarkable. At the stage where he still was a boy, Hart has had to deal with things no person, should endure. After a dry season he goes out Pearling with his father. Disaster strikes, and Hart becomes intertwined with the strings of life "“ both his and his best friends father. While he barely survived, Zeke is not as fortunate. Hart does not make it unscathed however; his leg becomes nearly useless. Just when things seem to calm the war starts. This is where the culture and setting of Broome comes in, and life of Hart slowly fades.

Broome in 1940 was considered to be one of the most "˜mixed culture' spots in Australia, but there were clear distinctions between races "“ such as the foreigners having only the mediocre work or people looking down on other people because of their race. This led the foreigners to have a "˜lower class' than the Europeans, especially for the Aboriginals, who weren't actually foreigners, as they could only work for small amounts of money. Broome was also a harsh and unforgiving place. Everyone had to work, there was no time to sit and chat and Pearling was the best way to live. Life revolved around the seasons. When the war broke out, the Europeans began to lose their grasp on the other cultures "“ this made them scared. It was ordered that all Japanese had to be locked up "“ something the Japanese didn't take to too kindly. Japanese Pearlers who had been away at sea arrived home only to immediately be taken to prison, innocent women and children were treated as aliens, as if at any second they could reveal a nuclear bomb from under their garments.

What's this got to do with Hart? Mitsy was Japanese "“ a girl he had loved since as long as he could remember. But she was now the enemy. After the death of Ida, which happened just after she returned to England, Michael and Hart took Sadako and Mitsy into their house. Romance between Hart and Mitsy bloomed, but the ever-increasing pressure from Broome to treat her as an outcast increases. It was only a matter of time before it happened, and in the end it did. Just after it was announced that his sister was "˜Missing In Action' after a Japanese attack, he released all of his anger, all of his rage, all of it "“ into Mitsy.

While things slowly settle and cool down, the general atmosphere of Broome remains the same. Mitsy and Hart end up apart, writing every now and then with a slight chance of returning together. Alice returns from the war, sick but alive and after a short while life returns to a normal a state as it could possibly be "“ considering all circumstances.

The Divine Wind truly is a remarkable story outlining not only the pressures and surprises that can only be found when growing up, not only what life was like in Broome in the 1940's, not only what it was like to live through a war. The Devine Wind is a story of the human spirit, and it's ability to survive "“ no matter what the odds.