Use of magic realism within Tim Winton's "Cloudstreet"

Essay by uk2ozz2007B, March 2007

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Tim Winton's Cloudstreet is a novel that fits into many genres, including that of family saga, gothic and magic realism. Although we can see evidence of all these in the text, it is the conventions of magic realism which work well in the creation of meaning and the formation of parallels between the society depicted within the novel, and a contemporary Australian. Some key elements of magic realist novels are that they include the use of fantastical elements, extensive use of symbols and imagery to drive the narrative and the distortion of time. We can see examples of these elements within Cloudstreet, which all function to add to meaning both within the novel and in a modern context by embedding issues of concern, such as the need for reconciliation and the importance of family, which are relevant to an audience of many generations.

Fantastical elements are a part of magic realism, and in Cloudstreet they can be found in the form of the Aboriginal mystic, the Pentecostal pig and the spirits in the house.

The spirits are particularly important in their contribution to the creation of meaning within the novel, as they are symbolic of white Australian treatment of Aborigines. One of these spirits is the ghost of a young Aboriginal girl, who was taken in by the house's previous owner, an elderly woman, in order to "make ladies of them so they could set a standard for the rest of their sorry race." This section of the text is clearly representative of the feeling of superiority many white Australians had towards the Aboriginal people of the 1940's, which is sadly still true to some extent today. This feeling of superiority is partly why young Aboriginal children were taken from their families in forced attempts at assimilation. These...