Big World by Tim Winton is a short story about the emotional journey of a young man and his implausible best mate, Biggie. The story illustrates the concept of journey by using first-person narration of the main character. After failing their exams the best friends take to the road in a prehistoric Kombi van for the omnipresent journey of discovery. It is set in the Western Australian small town of Angelus. It does not have the bright lights and interruptions of the city, nor the rural comforts of the country. People live out their lives either in the meat-packing plant, the trailer park or the dying fishing industry.
Throughout this journey Tim Winton allows the audience to see the perspective of the narrator, his opinions, thoughts and feelings about the violence, depression, intense loneliness, misunderstanding, and fractured families. This is what the narrator is trying to escape. His journey is a search for freedom and a better life. “Some days I can see me and Biggie out there as old codgers, anchored to the friggin’ place, stuck forever” – Narrator. The narrator is immensely disturbed by his exam results, as is his mother. He feels as though he is disappearing. Much like Coral who feels she is disappearing as a result of her son’s death.
Like Meg the narrator wishes to have more freedom and escape his troubled family life. “Missing out on uni really stings. When the results came I cried my eyes out. I thought about killing myself” – Narrator. Similar to the narrator Coral also faces the obstacle of depression. They both feel like they need to breakaway and begin a new journey that doesn’t involve the pressures of everyday life. He begins to focus on his dream and the goal of having better life experiences. The narrator is extremely excited by the prospect of change. “I can’t believe we’ve done it… it’s a mad feeling. ” – Narrator.
The narrator has overcome the challenge of depression which as a result of this tough journey has made him a stronger man. The narrator and Biggie have both had rough upbringings and have already overcome many obstacles in their lives such as the narrator’s father leaving and his past struggle with bullies and Biggie’s abusive father. Together the boys help each other through these hard times. Meg and Roy also have the issue of a fractured family. Meg’s negative relationship with her mother and Roy’s struggling marriage add to the pressure of everyday life. “Without Biggie there’d be nothing left of me to hold back.
It sounds weak, but he saved my life” – Narrator. The narrator expresses his feelings about Biggie and says that their journey together has “joined me to Biggie forever. ” One catalysts of the boy’s journey is their van breaking down. This forces the narrator to look deeply into his life. By doing this he accepts his failure in his exams, comes to a realisation of how he overcame his depression and he stops feeling lonely and unloved. The narrator’s journey ends when he welcomes the future and accepts his past. Both Away and Big World have unexpected detours that aid the characters to finish their journeys.
The narrator’s journey is one of acceptance and in the end he realises he can’t run everything in his life and that sometimes you have to just “give in and watch. ” This story will resonate with young men, particularly those who are looking for answers however the rhythm and sensory appeal will appeal to everyone. The story has a realistic dialogue which makes the audience reflect the attitudes of the characters. Winton has demonstrated a genuine tone which engages the audience and the use of 1st person makes the reader relate to the journey being taken.
Winton utilizes plenty of imagery in the story and developed a strong, distinguishing voice. Similar to Away the language in the story is colloquial and there is lots of use of slang which convincingly portrays the narrator’s personality. In Away and in Big World the characters each have similar journeys. All of the characters are travelling away to escape reality and to forget about their tribulations. The narrator’s mother much like Gwen in Away feels that Biggie is holding back her son and that they should not be friends. “She’s trying to wean me of Biggie Boston… Mum thinks Biggie’s an oaf, that he’s holding me back” – Narrator.
She believes, like Gwen believes with Meg and Tom, that they are too good for Biggie and that he is a lost cause. She doesn’t understand that her son and Biggie are very much like brothers. They are always there for each other and have respect, love and loyalty for one another. Much like the characters in Away, part of their journey is overcoming a negative family life. The narrator’s final words in the story sum up his journey. “Right now, standing with Biggie on the salt lake at sunset. I don’t care what happens beyond this moment. In the hot northern dusk, the world suddenly gets big around us, so big we just give in and watch. ”