Aquifer by Tim Winton

In Aquifer by Tim Winton we have the theme of memories, longing, connection, innocence, freedom, escape and time. Taken from his The Turning collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Winton may be exploring the theme of memories. The narrator is driving back to the city from Angelus and his mind is preoccupied with thoughts from his childhood and his growing up in the city. If anything there is a sense that the narrator is longing for a return to the city. He is married now and may not be happy in the small town of Angelus. The narrator also appears to be making or looking to make a connection with his past, a past when he was happier.

The theme of innocence is also evident in the story. The narrator is unaware that the man’s voice at the other end of the line when he dials 1194 is a recording. We know this because the narrator tries to talk to the man and realises that he can say anything to him. Also the narrator does not know what a condom is and thinks only Catholics would know what it is, just like the Box children. There is also a sense of adventure in the story when the narrator, unknown to his parents, starts to play in the swamp. If anything the swamp represents freedom to the narrator. He is able to do as he likes without any concern.

There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. Alan Mannering acts as the trigger for the narrator to visit his old home again. He has seen that a body has been discovered and he knows that it is Alan’s body. The swamp also serves to not only be a place where adventures take place but it is an escape for the narrator from the suburb. There is freedom in the swamp. A place where children can be children. Mrs van Gelder acts as a coming of age device for the narrator when he has a wet dream while dreaming about her. She is an older woman and excites the narrator. He fixates on her breasts which could suggest that the narrator is becoming aware of the opposite sex. The ruined Holden that Alan and the narrator chop up could symbolize the reality that the narrator might find himself in. Just as the car is destroyed so too are the narrator’s aspirations when he moves to Angelus. Again it is a small town that the narrator is uncomfortable in.

The end of the story is interesting as Winton may be suggesting that the narrator has no control over time. That time is something that passes people by without them knowing it. Mirroring the passing of the narrator’s youth. It is also interesting what happens to the Joneses. They are being evicted from their home and Winton may be placing a spotlight on the removal of Aborigines from their land by white settlers when Australia was first colonized. Also the fact that the narrator is wary of Cape Coloureds suggests that Winton may be letting the reader know that Aborigines, despite the passing of time, are not accepted by the some people in Australia. There are some who look upon them with suspicion. Overall Winton has written a story about a man who is unhappy with his present and is relying on his past for comfort. A past that saw the narrator living a healthy and productive life as a child.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Aquifer by Tim Winton." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 24 Sep. 2022. Web.

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