2. Sample

excerpt from:

Thematic Unit X
(Sunshine and Shadow, 1946)
Introductory Information and Interpretation

The epilogical final chapter returns to the present of 1946 resuming the story about five years after the Japanese attack on Broome. The narrator sums up past events and gives us information about the fate of the central characters. Shortly after the Japanese attack on Broome its "residents were told by the American military authorities that they should evacuate the town, as previous experience had shown that Japanese air raids were usually followed by troop landings, and such could be expected shortly in Broome. As a result of this advice, Mr. A. Male, the Broome Road Board Chairman, sent the following telegram to State Premier Wilicocks in Perth -

'We demand that aerial transport be sent to Broome to evacuate civil population who desire to leave. Alternatively adequate Australian fighter protection afforded to avoid repetition of this morning's occurrence. Roads impassable. ' Many of the residents did not wait for a response to the telegram, and Bell Bros. (who were the contractors working on the airstrip) placed their vehicles at the disposal of the townspeople. A convoy was formed, and many of the residents headed south. Because of floodwaters ( it was the 'wet' season in the North), they could not proceed passed Anna Plains Station, and many in the convoy turned back, returning to Broome on March 5th. For some time after the raid, it was the practice of the civil population to leave town early each morning and 'go bush', returning in the afternoon when it was thought the danger from possible air raids would be passed. Perhaps this was a sound practice as another raid was launched on the 4th March, but had to turn back, when only 80 km from Broome, due to bad weather!" 1)

Hartley relates that in the meantime his father has "regained most of his speech and mobility" ... and that Alice has returned from Japanese captivity. Her bad condition casts light on the cruel treatment she had to suffer as a Japanese prisoner of war. She is "just skin and bone ... Many of her teeth had fallen out and tropical ulcers had left craters in her legs and her eyes were wide and ravaged-looking in a pinched face".

Ironically Tatura in Victoria, an internment camp for the Japanese, has become "the only safe place" for Mitsy and Sadako. Three years ago in a generous gesture approved of by her mother, Mitsy had written a first letter to Hart. In this letter she tells him that they are well and treated kindly 2). Moreover, Mitsy discloses her true feelings when she writes: "I told him [Jamie] that it was you I loved. What I didnīt tell him was that I was waiting for you to feel better about me".

It does not escape the readerīs notice that in the move of the novelīs action the characters spend a lot of their time in waiting. And that is not at all surprising for it is a matter of fact that in times of crisis, great stress and uncertainty we are dominated by fearful expectation of the future. We hope for the best but fear the worst.

Now at the end of the novel Hart is waiting again. ...

By way of conclusion one can rightly say that Disherīs 'The Divine Wind' is "a thrilling novel which meticulously analyses the destructive power of war and its devastating effect on people torn between the strong emotions they have always held dear in their life". (Lollipops, September/October 1998) _____________________

1) from : Prime, Mervyn W., Broomeīs one day war: the story of the Japanese raid on Broome, 3rd March 1942, Broome, W.A.: Shire of Broome [for Broome Historical Society], 1992, p. 11 -
2) Indeed, unlike prisoners of war, the internees were not forced to work, though they were often asked to help with the construction of camps. However, itīs a matter of fact, too, that in these camps some internees suffered from nervous breakdowns or attempted suicide. Others died of malaria, tuberculosis or old age.

Teaching Suggestions

1. Homework check
:1. Why was the evacuation convoy forced to turn back?
2. How did Michael Penrose fare after his stroke?
3. What happened to Jamie after he was rescued by Hart?
4. What happened to Sadako and Mitsy after the Japanese air-raid on Broome?
5. What does Hart learn from Mitsyīs letter about her former relation to Jamie?

  The Divine Wind  

Garry Disher, The Divine Wind, Teacher's Guide




2. The victims of war
In the epilogical last chapter Hart informs us about some victims of war. What are the casualties of war as depicted in "The Divine Wind"?
Although Alice survives the war she returns as a mutilated person marked by the aftermath of Japanese captivity. She is "just skin and bone ... Many of her teeth had fallen out and tropical ulcers had left craters in her legs and her eyes were wide and ravaged-looking in a pinched face" ... However, these are only the last effects of the war described in the novel. Already at the beginning of the war Ida was killed in a German air-raid. The attack on Broome caused many losses of lives ... Moreover, interpersonal relations are threatened or even destroyed for Hart tells us that "some who had been our friends were now treated as aliens, transfigured by enmity and fear" and thus Japanese Australians, men women and even children, had to spend many years of their lives in internment camps.

3. The meaning of 'waiting'
Show that many characters in the novel spend a lot of time in waiting.
At the very beginning of the novel Hart tells us that his mother is waiting "for something to change" or for her husband to return from the pearling grounds. On the other hand Michael Penrose is impatiently counting the days until the Dry comes, and Alice awaits "her travel orders". Mitsy and Sadako hope for Zekeīs return, ... People feel a constant apprehension of war and Hart and his father are fearfully waiting for news from Alice. Hart is hoping for healing from both physical and psychological pain. He constantly longs for adulthood and for his love of Mitsy to come to fruition. ..

Why do the characters in "The Divine Wind" spend so much time in waiting?
Disherīs novel does not only describe a critical and dangerous period in the history of Australia, especially that of Broome and its inhabitants, but it is also based on a sequence of crises in the lives of the main characters. Therefore it is not at all surprising that they spend a lot of their time in waiting. From experience we know that in times of crisis, stress and uncertainty the life of man is dominated by fearful expectation of what may come. We hope for the best but fear the worst.

4. Discussion
Will Hart be strong enough ... ? Discuss.

5. The composition of the novel
Finally the students and teacher should develop the following diagram in order to illustrate both the position of the epilogue and the circular composition of the whole novel. (cf. Teacherīs Book)


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