Discussion of the ways in which fear, either real or imagined, affects relationships in David Malouf's representation of an early colonial settlement in 'Remembering Babylon'.

Essay by EnglishLitStudentHigh School, 12th gradeA-, July 2005

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Regardless of whether a threat is real or imaginary, fear affects an individual. In David Malouf's novel Remembering Babylon, fear affects the individual and consequently the relationships that the characters involve themselves in. Fear can be the starting point or ending point of a relationship, or both, and can also bring fluctuations during the course of a relationship. Some relationships that are affected by fear in Remembering Babylon include those between Gemmy and the settlers, the settlers and the land and Gemmy and Willet. However, one of the most important relationships in the novel, and one of the relationships that is influence most heavily by fear is the one between Gemmy and Lachlan.

The first chapter of Remembering Babylon starts off the novel with the notion of fear in the reader's mind. The fear recalled in this chapter is that of when Gemmy and the children; Meg, Janet and Lachlan; first encounter one another.

The fear that is evident is focused mainly on that felt by Gemmy and Lachlan, as it is their relationship that is most affected by it. On first seeing Gemmy, the children are afraid of him and what he represents, "the blacks". Their fear is shown by their reactions, as the two girls had "given a gasp, one sharp intake of breath". Lachlan's first thought on seeing Gemmy is that they are being "raided by blacks". The fear that the children experience is a result of their upbringing in this foreign land. They have been taught that the indigenous Australians are going to raid them, and "after so many false alarms" this was about to happen. Although the reasons for the children being afraid were based on unsubstantiated assumptions, the fear that they were experiencing was real. In the same way that the children...