'Intrinsic to "Cloudstreet" is the family unit out of which a complex fabric of ideas is woven.'

Essay by SantinaHigh School, 12th grade July 2006

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Tim Winton's "Cloudstreet" tells the story of two families forced together in the same house. Through the conflict within and between the two families, Winton explores the importance of family, and through this concept he examines the concepts of identity, gender roles and reconciliation.

The idea of family is intrinsic to "Cloudstreet". The section "Fatted Calf" demonstrates the complexity of relationships in families. Lon calls Fish "...a Clydesdale. A monster!" and this highly patronizing tone and use of hyperbole prompts an angry outburst by Lester, "...get your head off and see if you can't give it a good flush out." The use of toilet imagery reflects the inappropriate nature of Lon's comment. However the mood changes quickly as soon as Quick appears. "She's havin an attack of smiles" shows the way the positive and negative blend together within the family, and this reflects the underlying support and happiness despite the conflict.

As Quick observes later "there was good and bad, punishment and reward...But there was love too...even in the miserable times after Fish drowned." This juxtaposition of opposites encapsulates the ebb and flow of family life. Despite the conflict, the sense of love and belonging is ubiquitous in family relationships. It is this cohesive nature that allows families to transcend both adversity and circumstance. As Michael McGirr claims in Go Home Said The Fish, "Winton is nostalgic for a time." Cloudstreet is "an articulate lament for a period of greater moral security, greater cultural diversity, a larger lexicon of words." Winton's celebration of the family unit and its influence on the formation of identity continues to resonate with significance to contemporary audiences. The family unit is under threat by external social pressure and the breakdown of relationships, but the perseverance in maintaining it is shown...