Big World by Tim Winton

In Big World by Tim Winton we have the theme of disillusionment, failure, escape, jealousy, loyalty, change, freedom and friendship. Taken from his The Turning collection the story is narrated by an unnamed young eighteen year old boy and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Winton may be exploring the theme of disillusionment. The narrator, who only moved to the town when he was younger, does not like Angelus. He does not see a future for himself and would prefer to go north to Cable Beach where it is hotter and he can escape from the life he is living. The narrator also considers the people in Angelus, including Biggie to be failures which is ironic considering that the narrator has done so badly in his final school exams. The University place that the narrator longed for is not forthcoming and that may be the real reason that the narrator is leaving Angelus. He may feel as though he has no option but to leave.

Biggie plays an important part in the story as he is the narrator’s best friend even though the narrator might consider himself to be better than Biggie, who has also failed his exams. Though there is not any pressure on Biggie. His mother expected him to fail and accepts it. Something that the narrator is unable to do. He really did long to go to University and his mother wants him to sit the exams again but the narrator is restless and finally persuades Biggie to abandon the abattoir with him and head for Cable Beach. It may also be important that Meg joins the narrator and Biggie on their journey to Cable Beach as she acts as a trigger for the narrator to get jealous of Biggie, possibly for the first time in his life. He knows that Biggie will sleep with Meg and he wishes that he could find a girl for himself. It is interesting that the narrator stopped courting Briony because he didn’t want to leave Biggie on his own. This too is significant as it suggests that despite what the narrator really thinks of Biggie he is still loyal to him.

There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. Winton uses the setting to emphasis the theme of escape. The narrator really does not like Angelus and he can see no positives in the town. The road trip might also be important with regard to symbolism as the rolling roads that the narrator and Biggie encounter in many ways represent the wheels turning on not only the VW but in the narrator’s mind. When he realizes that he will not make it to Cable Beach he knows that he has no option but to follow his mother’s advice and resit his exams. Meg may represent freedom and the fact that Biggie feels superior to her could suggest that Biggie is not as dumb as the narrator makes out. If anything Biggie may just be lazy. A laziness brought on by his home life and his disillusionment with his father who beats him and his mother.

The end of the story is interesting as the narrator, when the VW breaks down, knows that things are going to change in his life. As readers we discover that Biggie will die young. The end of a young boy’s life that may or may not have been as successful (by going to University) as the narrator. If anything the narrator conforms by the end of the story and may realize that his dream of escape to Cable Beach was just that, a dream. What is important to the narrator also changes. When he sees Briony in the queue in the supermarket he wonders why he thought she was so significant to him. It is as though the brief period of escape for the narrator has served to be a lesson to him. He knows he has to get serious with his life if he wants to go to University. A place that might be the real escape and making of the narrator.

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


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