Abbreviation by Tim Winton

In Abbreviation by Tim Winton we have the theme of coming of age, family, innocence, selfishness, gender roles and courage. Taken from his The Turning collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and the reader realizes after reading the story that Winton may be exploring the theme of coming of age. Vic, who is only thirteen, has never been with a girl before. Melanie is the first girl that he has been with. If anything Vic is excited by her. She is an older girl and leads the way for Vic. Which may be significant as it suggests that Melanie might have had some previous experience when it comes to boys. Vic might not be her first conquest. Though this is not something that Vic is thinking about. He is preoccupied with her body and doesn’t really care if she has been with somebody else. Ernie plays an important part in the story too as he represents family for Vic. A family that might not be as functional as Vic would like. Ernie is somewhat of a rogue and often gets into trouble.  While his Aunt Cleo appears to think of nobody but herself.

Aunt Cleo too is important as she can be seen to represent the opposite to what Vic’s mother thinks a woman should be. She is loud while Vic’s mother might think that a woman should be quieter, more restrained. Likewise Nanna can see no wrong in Ernie, he is her favourite son and is allowed to get away with things. At no stage in the story does Nanna judge Ernie while Vic and his father do. Vic’s cousins, who he does not like, only have a small role in the story and throughout they are silent. Not one of the girls speaks to anybody. This may be significant as Winton could be highlighting the role that women or girls play in society with an expectation for them to follow rather than lead. However Melanie is different to this. She is a leader and Vic knows this. If anything Vic, because of Melanie’s age, may never have plucked the courage to kiss her.

There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The sand is described as being white when Vic is with Melanie. In literature white is often used to highlight innocence and there is no doubt that Vic, though he may not like it, is innocent when it comes to Melanie. Uncle Erne could also represent the wrong path to take. The bike that Vic got one Christmas from Uncle Vic may also have symbolic significance as Winton could be using the bike to suggest that Ernie lives on the other side of the law unlike Vic’s father who is a policeman. It is also interesting that this was the only present that Vic received from Ernie. Perhaps Vic’s parents had a word with Vic or Vic might not have had a desire to spend his own money on his nephew. The circus tent that is at the camp and which belongs to Melanie and her family could symbolize excitement. Something that Melanie provides for Vic.

The end of the story is interesting as the hook that Vic takes to Melanie can be seen to be a trophy of sorts. Not only of Vic’s experience in the sea but also a thank you to Melanie for allowing Vic to kiss and touch her. The fact that Melanie has left before Vic can give her the hook suggests that Vic has to learn to move on quickly. At times people meet people they learn from but that person is only in their lives for a brief moment. Just as Melanie was only briefly in Vic’s life but she has had a profound effect on him. He will always remember Melanie as the first girl he kissed and touched. His trip to the beach will be an occasion that he remembers and may not better.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Abbreviation by Tim Winton." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 23 Sep. 2022. Web.

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