Universal Consciousness

Tim Winton’s novel Cloudstreet has been hailed a classic due to its enduring relevance and universal applicability. Through its offering of significant themes to contemporary readers, Cloudstreet explores how relationships reinforce the importance of belonging. This is displayed within Fish’s relationship to the universal consciousness as well as the relationship between Rose Pickles and Quick Lamb which ultimately provides a profound connection and sense of belonging to both families. Tim Winton’s use of distinctive language, universal characters, and a saga-like novel structure clearly conveys the importance that a sense of belonging within people’s lives and thus it exemplifies a high level of textual integrity.

Within Cloudstreet, relationships take many forms. Specifically, Fishes relationship with a universal consciousness leaves one of the most profound impacts on a reader by depicting the importance of belonging. When Fish drowns, “Not all of fish lamb” comes back and the separation is marked by Winton through the use of the binary opposition “[i]t was like he was half in and half out”. Fish becomes part of the universal consciousness which, at several stages, becomes the narrative voice of the novel. Fish’s search for belonging in the novel is explored through his search of reuniting with the incorporeal universal consciousness - his other half through “the river”. Winton uses the river as a biblical reference to baptism in depicting the symbolic link between the physical and metaphysical realms. The metaphysical union of Fish’s two halves at the end of the novel symbolises the union of his relationship with the universal consciousness. Winton emphasis this union by personifying the water as it “smacks him and kisses” when Fish touches it, vividly describing the union of the relationship. Winton further exemplifies this through the use of first person “I feel… I recognise myself” to display how fish is no longer “stuck in time and space” but is instead finally belonging.Through portraying the union of Fish’s relationship with the universal consciousness, Tim Winton ultimately displays the importance of belonging in the novel and the lengths a character will go to in order to achieve wholeness again. (Am I talking about belonging to late in this paragraph? à No this is good! I have made a few minor adjustments but the point of the paragraph is correct and relevant)

Tim Winton deliberately uses relationships within the novel to depict the universal theme of belonging. This is clearly established within Fish’s lust to unite with the universal consciousness and feel whole again à you ended the last paragraph with this so consider another phrase instead. Fish Lamb’s struggle to connect with the universal consciousness is displayed through the “continuing sound of middle C” echoed throughout the house. Winton describes the sound as ‘continuing’ to display Fish’s persistence to feel belonging again.

The note middle C is symbolic due to being positioned in the centre of the piano. Its visional representation depicts Fish’s struggle as he is ‘stuck’ between physical and metaphysical realms. Fish’s separation into two halves - physical and metaphysical - is displayed within the narration throughout the novel, as the narrative switches to the third person on p.2 and back to the first person on p.3. It isn’t until the final saga where the narrator of the novel uses first person to show the union of fish’s two halves.“I really am. Being Fish Lamb. Perfectly. Always. Everyplace. Me.” Winton uses syntax/short sentences to impact the audience is conveying the relief felt by fish as he finds a sense of belonging with the union of his two halves. Through the coming together of different written elements, Winton reinforces the importance of the concept of belonging by displaying Fish’s journey in reuniting with the universal consciousness. (Is this last sentence strong enough or do I need a stronger linking sentence back to the question? à it’s good!)

Moreover, Cloudstreet is seen as a middle ground and the resting place for each of the characters in the novel. The coming together of Rose and Quick displays the joining of the families and belonging which they find in each other. The birth of their child represents unity between the two families.

In the final chapter, Winton describes Quick cutting a hole in the wall for Wax Harry’s bedroom representing an allegory of the literal and figurative meaning of knocking down walls to enable the families to come together and finally belong. Winton vividly describes this as “Quick opens the wall up with a saw” to depict that “There’s sun coming in!”. Dialogue and an explanation mark is used to emphasis a new era, while the sun is used to represent a new mark of life in the room. The union of the two families is displayed in the birth of Wax Harry as “The house breathes its first painless breath of fresh air in half a century and outside the pig is going at it…like a bacon choir.” Winton makes the house feel ‘at peace’ by using personification to mark the coming to gather and belonging of the families. Winton further reiterates this through the textual use of Iconic Australian imagery through self deprecating humour to compliment the hyperbolised scene. Through the use of distinctive language and the universal theme of belonging coming together, Winton creates a cohesive whole that depicts how essential different relationships are in reinforcing the concept of belonging.