Sand by Tim Winton
In Sand by Tim Winton we have the theme of conflict, anger, revenge, innocence, coming of age, blame, jealousy and fear. Taken from his The Turning and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Winton may be exploring the theme of conflict. Frank and Max though they both stand side by side throughout most of the story are in fact in conflict with one another. Even if Frank as the younger brother may not understand this. It is however clear to the reader. What seems like harmless fun has the possibility of being menacing particularly when Max is chasing Frank after the incident with the matches. It is as though Max is angry that he has been burnt by Frank even if it was an accident. There is also a sense that Max feels as though an injustice has occurred and he is seeking revenge for Frank’s actions. The reader also feels as though there is a loss of innocence or coming of age for Frank after he is buried in the sand. He has had previous encounters with Max that were unpleasant but this one in particular seems to be even worse than usual. With the fact being that Frank may have lost consciousness due to Max’s actions.
What is also interesting about the story is the freedom that both Frank and Max have. They have a whole beach in which to explore and to find things to occupy their mind. It is as though their father has let them loose while he is fishing with his friends. Allowing both Frank and Max to be children without any responsibility. This may be important as there is a possibility that Frank and Max’s mother has left them and as such they may be fragile. Something that only really comes with a loss of innocence. When an individual realises that they are no longer invincible and that they may be vulnerable. The incident of Frank sitting in the toilet and Max telling him to stop crying might also be significant as Max could be suggesting that either Frank should grow up or that Frank is actually embarrassing Max. Either way Max is not supportive as one would expect an older brother to be. Something which may have stuck in Frank’s mind.
It may also be a case that Max is jealous of Frank because Frank can run faster than him and the fact that Frank is chosen to play football by his peers before Max is. If anything Max’s ego may have been deflated because Frank is more athletic than him and as such Max has another reason to seek revenge on Frank. The incident of trying to bury Frank in the sand may have been premeditated and due to Frank’s innocence Frank went along with Max’s plan to dig the hole. There is also no doubting that Max as the older brother finds it easy to hoodwink Frank. Which again may leave many readers suggesting that Frank is in fact quite innocent when it comes to Max’s motives. Frank also seems to be that little bit detached from his father and remains walking behind him when his father is talking to his friends on the beach. If this is the case than again it is possible that Frank is only getting use to his father due to his mother leaving him and Max.
The end of the story is also interesting as Frank appears to have soiled his clothes for a second time. Such is the fear he feels over the incident of being nearly buried alive by Max. There is also a sense that just as Frank was embarrassed the first time he soiled his clothes. Likewise he is embarrassed when it happens for a second time. The fact that Frank apologizes is also interesting as it suggests that Frank knows not only that he may have done something which will not be accepted by others but he also making a connection with his father for the first time. No longer can Frank trust Max and as such he is forced to trust his father. A man that Frank may not necessarily know too well but nonetheless has to accept that he is all that he has. In reality life has changed dramatically for Frank. His mother has abandoned him and Max. He no longer can trust Max and is now reliant on a father that he does not really know. It is for this reason that the reader suspects that Frank has lost his innocence and is coming of age. Whether he likes it or not.