Children in Malouf Essay

This essay has a total of 854 words and 4 pages.

Children in Malouf

Children take center stage in a lot of maloufs stories, but the memory of childhood is a
deeper, more resonant thread throughout this collection. Pre - adolescence, particularly
the ages of nine or ten, carries enormous weight in the writer's imagination. The light
from his Brisbane childhood often illuminates his narrative, and the remembered landscape
often illuminates his narrative, and the remembered landscape fills in the background, but
it is the child's worldview that is the dominant concern. Malouf has talked about " the
kind of fluidity of your perceptions at that time which are mostly un-judgmental",
although he acknowledges the incredible strength with which convictions are held. Most of
the important questions about relationships and their foundations have begun to surface,
yet the child is banished from the adult world at the same time, instilling in them a
sense of mystery about the milieu of grown-ups and an awareness of the boundary that
exists between childhood and adolescence. Maloufs younger characters exhibit many of these
qualities, while the adults try to recapture the untrammeled joy of discovery they
remember from their youth.


"Closer" and "Blacksoil Country" are both told from the child's point of view. Although
Jordan, the ‘child' in the latter story, is discovered to be a 150 -year-old ghost, he
shares Amy's fierce loyalty to her family, despite any objections they may have their
elders' behavior. Both children are driven to heal familial wounds: Amy seeks to reconcile
her strict fundamentalist family with her openly gay uncle, while Jordan seems more
concerned with his fathers final acknowledgement of his paternal connection than he is
with the reality of his own murder (p. 130). Neither children are able to condemn their
elders' narrow opinions, but both regret the destructive power such attitudes can have.
Jordan's innocence allows him to see the apparently harsh landscape around him with fresh
eye's; he and his brother feel that their youth alone is the reason for the magical
protection bestowed on them by their Aboriginal neighbors (p.124)


Jack, the main character in "At Schindlers", shares Jordan's and Amy's confidence, but is
uncomfortable with the complexity of adult relationships. Watching his mother getting
ready for a dance, he feels excluded from her womanly preparations: "Other rules applied
here than the ones he knew and wanted her to keep"(p.4). His family is a "puzzle" in the
shape of a triangle, the third point of which resides "in a place he could conceive of but
never reach"(p.9). He has a fixed idea of his mother in this picture, and is disturbed
when her ‘friendship' with Milt begins to unseat it. Jack comes to grips with the family
"puzzle" by the end of the story, and his newfound wisdom propels him into a more adult
universe. In " Great Day", young Ned rages when grown ups refuse to give him answers. "How
am I ever going to know how to act or anything if I cant find out the simplest thing?" he
whines (p.134) His uncle Clem has returned to a childlike state after a car accident
leaves him with acquired brain injury; he is forced to put the jigsaw of his past back
together "like a child catching at clues that the grown-ups would give away only by
default" (p.145). Similarly, Brad's son in "Sally's Story" is "puzzled" when his father
Continues for 2 more pages >>




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