The novella "Fly Away Peter" by David Malouf expresses the two specific themes, the brutality of war being the literal theme and the continuity of life being the philosophical theme. Malouf expresses these meanings effectively to the reader through his use of stylistic elements such as symbolism, poetic description, repetition and structural elements such as characters experiences.
The use of symbolism throughout this story helps Malouf express the themes of the continuity of life and the brutality of war in a clearer manner. One of the symbols used throughout is the migration of the birds. The birds symbolise the specific theme of continuity of life because they continue to migrate during peace and war times
The migration of the birds also represents how even if there is a disastrous event the cycle of life will continue, "was the presence of the birds... and to find his way back at times to a natural cycle that the birds still followed undisturbed."
This is just one example where the birds are continuing there lives and therefore symbolising the continuity of life. Rats are another symbol used in this book, but this time to represent the brutality of war. On a literal level the rats were in the trenches but they also symbolise how brutal the war is, having another enemy to fight and resist and all the other things that there was to resist, "and rats in the same field of grey as the invisible enemy, they were as big as cats and utterly fearless, skittering over your face in the dark, ... the rats were fat because the fed on corpse," "but the rats they were a different species. For him (Jim) they familiars of death." The rats were one of the brutalities of war but also...