Composers create distinctively visual images to draw aspects that they are presenting in their texts. This helps the reader to understand and visualise the characters responses to significant aspects of life. The Author Henry Lawson uses these distinctive images in his short stories ‘The Drovers Wife’ and ‘The Loaded Dog’ to help portray the harsh realities of living in the Australian bush. These realities create significant experiences for the individuals in his stories as they are faced with hardships, mateship and love. Similarly, John Misto’s play ’The Shoe-Horn Sonta’ and Ramon Tongs ‘African Beggar’ use distinctively visual language to let the responder engage with the characters and their world.
‘The Loaded Dog’ explores the significant experience of mateship through the characters; Dave Regan, Jim Bently, Andy Page and their young retriever Tommy who is described with great visual imagery as an ‘overgrown pup, a big, foolish, four-footed mate, who was always slobbering round them and lashing their legs with his heavy tail that swung round like a stock-whip’. The story starts off slow introducing the gold mines that the story takes place in, using elaborate instructions to explain the process of mining and cartridge construction through verbs including ‘sewed’, ‘bound’ and ‘pasted’ which gives the reader a distinctively visual image of how life was for the gold miners. The author uses Australian jargon and vernacular language such as ’Don’t foller us!’ and ’no mucking around’ throughout the story to give the reader a more visual image of how the men of the area communicate.
The story’s pace exponentially increases along with it’s humour as the storyline develops and as each complication arises. Dialogue and punctuation, such as ‘dashes’, carry us along with the action painting a picture in the readers mind of the events taking place. Dave who is seen as the ‘ideas man’ decides to create a cartridge to blow the local fish out of the water to eat and while he is at away at working on the cartridge, Tommy grabs the cartridge in his play, setting it alight in the fire, which establishes the main issue in the story. Lawson uses a humorous tone throughout this scene to give the reader a more visual image of what is being played out ‘close behind him, was the retriever with the cartridge in his mouth – wedged into his broadest and silliest grin’.
Another short story composed by Lawson similar to ’The Loaded Dog’ entitled ‘The Drovers Wife’ creates powerful images through the use of distinctively visual language that enables the reader to feel the hardships of the characters. Lawson begins the story with the distinctively visual image of the harsh landscape ‘The bush consists of stunted, rotting native apple trees. No undergrowth, Nothing to relieve the eye save the darker green of a few she oaks which are sighing above the narrow waterless creek’. This descriptive language allows the responder to visualise the harsh outback scenery. The drovers wife is seen as a protective mother and a hardened battler against the disasters of the Australian bush.
The use of alliteration ‘no undergrowth, nothing to relieve the eye… nineteen miles to the nearest civilisation’ accentuates how isolated the Wife is from society. Lawson uses powerful verbs when creating a distinctively visual image in the responders mind in ‘The Drover’s Wife’. When the drover’s wife goes to hit the snake, ‘snatches’ is used to create images of immediacy and courage within the responder’s mind, whilst ‘darts’ is used to create an image of threat, the woman has no hesitation in hitting the snake and she darts to protect her children.
Similar to John Lawson’s stories, John Misto’s Australian play ‘The Shoe-Horn Sonta’ uses an array of distinctively visual techniques to highlight the significant aspects of the story. Through dramatic film and editing techniques, and powerful dialogue, Misto explores the story of hundreds and thousands of women imprisoned by the Japanese in South-East Asia. The composer uses juxtaposition as the dialogue consists of both private and public conversations to create an image in the responders mind of the powerful links between the public and private voices between the two main characters, Sheila and Bridie. The opening scene shows Bridie re-enacting the kowtow, a tribute to the emperor of Japan ‘Bridie stands in a spotlight. She bows stiffly from the waist, and remains in this position.’ These stage directions allow the reader to visualise how Misto wants it to be performed, letting the reader share their experiences, and feel engaged with Bridie.
Ramon Tong’s ‘African Beggar’ utilises distinctively visual language techniques to create and perceive a relationship with the persona and his world and therefore understand the challenges he faces. The metaphor ‘a heap of verminous rags and matted hair’ is used to establish an image of a ‘thing’ rather than a human as ‘verminous’ is usually associated with flies and ‘matted hair’ creates images of an unhygienic lifestyles in the responders mind. The tone of the story suddenly changes in the third stanza and enables the reader to re-establish the relationship and perception that was previously created with the beggar. ‘lost in the trackless jungle of his pain’ is an example of symbolism used the show that the beggar feels pain in his whole body. This stanza creates an image of someone struggling for life and gives reason for the reader to feel sympathetic towards the beggar, this is highlighted in the line ‘lying all alone’.
In conclusion, these texts all use powerful distinctively visual techniques to the let the reader understand and visualise the personas and their worlds, and the hardships that they face.
Distinctively Visual Essay
#Are Visuals only distinctive in that they appeal to a specific audience or are they distinctive because they portray a universal concept?
Visuals are distinctive, not because it only appeals to a specific audience but because they convey a universal concept and this is clearly shown in Henry Lawson’s “Drover’s Wife” and “The Loaded Dog”. These two short stories convey the universal principle of persistence, hardship, and mateship through survival in an unforgiving and harsh environment.
The Drover’s wife clearly portrays the unique landscape of the outback through the hardships the drover’s wife’s persistent survival. The vision of the Drover’s wife is one of a protective mother, and a hardened battler against the disasters of the Australian bush. The use of alliteration “no undergrowth, nothing to relieve the eye…nineteen miles to the nearest…civilisation” emphasises how isolated the drover’s wife and that she is alienated from the rest of the world. The personification “Big black yellow eyed dog of all breeds” conveys that only rough, and masculine characteristics can thrive within the outback of the Australian bush. Furthermore the “Young Lady’s Journal…for her surrounding’s not favourable of the development of the womanly side of nature” conveys the journal as a symbol of the drover’s wife leaving her womanhood in the past in order to brave the rough and terrible conditions of the bush. The hardships faced by the people in the bush can be seen in the juxtaposition, “Thunder rolls and rain comes in torrent/the drought of eighteen ruins him” which illustrates the unpredictability of the outback lifestyle. Finally the extended imagery that portrays the wife and her children as “ragged dried up looking children…gaunt sun brown woman” conveys the stoic vision of both the land and its inhabitants as worn and exhausted.
In addition the powerful setting of the outback itself is seen to create the image of the settlers. The endless ‘travel’ motif in “That monotony that makes a man longing to break away, travel as far as a train go, sail as far as ships can sail” shows that the land is larger than life and that the inhabitants are helpless within it. The personification of Alligator “He hates snakes and killed many, but he will be bitten some day and die; most snake-dogs end that way” again reflects the inevitability of death and failure in such a landscape. The anecdotal humour of “They are cunning but a woman’s cunning is greater” further emphasises the shrewd mentality that bushman need in order to live a life in outback. “Shakes the snake as though he felt the original curse with mankind” is a biblical reference for the dog creating a sense of mateship for the hound as well as putting it in the same family as its handler. Alligator like the retriever in “The Loaded Dog” personifies the harsh reality of the bush; further emphasised in the desolate tone of the death of the bush woman’s child. “She rode nineteen miles for assistance… carrying the dead child…” In this way, “the Drover’s Wife” clearly presents that visuals are distinctive as they have a universal concept through the hardships faced in the outback and persistence.
The Loaded Dog clearly conveys that distinctively visual elements of outback life through black humour and the concept of Mateship. The careless, almost frivolous lifestyle of the Australian Larrikin throughout the entire story portrays the strong bond that Andy, Dave and Jim have with each other and their dog Tommy. The personification “Foolish four-footed mate…with an idiotic slobbering grin of appreciation of his own silliness” conveys that the dog is not treated as a dog but as another member of their circle of mates. Their hyperbolic “dynamite fishing” shows the larrikins’ uncultured way of handling a problem which they are faced with creating both humour and showcasing the Outback appreciation for the ridiculous. The cartridge of dynamite used for fishing foreshadows the disastrous results for it is absurd. “To give the fish some time to get over their scare and come hosing around again” is ironic because the audience know that the cartridge is going to fail either way but it also portrays the innocence and inventive nature of the bush folk. The repetition of ‘suppose’ in “Gold quartz…Suppose to exist…coal reef…suppose to exist” emphasises that the optimistic, happy go lucky attitude of the outback folk. s
Furthermore the antics of the characters create a vision of what the outback life is like. The iconic jovial nature of the Australians are shown in the sibilance “The mates should rise and begin to sniff suspiciously in the sickly smothering atmosphere of the summer sunrise” conveying that there is a strong connection between the land and the personality of the inhabitants. It also emphasises that the larrikins are carefree and take the problems of life as they come. The use of dramatic irony “Dave looked over his shoulder and bolted-Jim looked behind Dave and bolted-Andy stood still” is humorous as they each react to the threat of a “friend” with a cartridge in its mouth symbolising death at their heels. Here Tommy is also a metaphor for the unpredictable chance of death and injury that is prevalent the bush. Furthermore, the use of simile “Andy is as handy as the average sailor with needles, twine, canvas and rope” also shows that the larrikins are very practical, each a jack-of-all-trades. The conclusion “bushmen…trying to laugh without shrieking” was ironic because it is almost karmic that the bully robbing the underdog would be punished for his sins. The appreciation of this irony displays the Aussies as happy-go-lucky jokers; conveying the unique vision of Australians as distinctive and individualistic with a fine appreciation for life.
In this way, Henry Lawson’s “Drover’s Wife” and “The Loaded Dog” both clearly shows that Visuals are distinctive not because it appeal to a specific audience but because it shapes a distinctive and individual vision of Australians. Aspects such as hardships, persistence, mateship and black humour all contribute to give the audience a very clear image about the outback in Australia.