A Small Good Thing And Jindabyne

September 10, 2021 by Essay Writer

Raymond Carver’s short story, A Small Good Thing, and Ray Lawrence’s film, Jindabyne, miscellaneously explore the idea that individuals can experience isolation. Carver delineates a tale about two parents struggling with their son’s brain injury after a hit and run accident and the incessant phone calls from the baker who made the boy’s birthday cake. Lawrence’s film on the other hand, focuses on a story about an ethical decision established during a fishing trip which intensifies to matrimonial and cultural conflict in an Australian country town. In order to compel readers and viewers to comprehend characteristics of isolation, both Lawrence and Carver, seamlessly fuse racial divisions and parochialism, domestic chaos that rupture people’s connections, and the lingering nature of being internally confounded creatures. Symbolism is used to illustrate how isolation can be experienced by characters. Narrative events are used by both authors to develop the stories and show how people can change their preconceived notions. Finally, the authors have utilised setting to allow the audience to understand the issues of isolation thoroughly. As Lawrence’s text has been produced as a film, he has incorporated techniques, such as camera shots, lighting and songs to further strengthen his idea, unlike Carver who is limited to literary techniques.

1: Isolation:

Both Raymond Carver, in A Small Good Thing, and Ray Lawrence, in Jindabyne, posit that isolation- involuntary or intended, is an authoritative force, imposing individuals to be enervated and to question their place in the world. The most pervasive and evident of such isolator mechanisms used by Carver and Lawrence are established through setting. In Jindabyne, Lawrence sets his moral tale in a semi-remote Australian township named Jindabyne which “was originally flooded as a part of the Snowy Mountain scheme”. Characters are positioned in Lake Jindabyne frequently; during the men’s fishing trip an establishing shot with low-key lighting demonstrates the men kneeling down by the river. Whilst the dark lighting in the scene foreshadows the moral darkness that will soon eat them from within and without, the setting reveals substantially more than this. The aquatic element and the existence of a submerged life becomes a haunting metaphor of the secrets hidden under the illusory surface of daily life and of a past, that cause turmoil and successively isolation. Water is also an embedded cue of characters’ psychological and physical condition; implying to viewers how characters like Clare oscillate between their desire to admit to themselves the problems which assail and the inactiveness which has become habitual. Likewise, Carver uses an aquatic element in his setting to depict isolation. Howard “lets the water pour into the tub, and stretches out, closing his eyes”. Subsequently, readers comprehend that the bathtub is a form of self-renewal, permitting Howard to cleanse himself, emotionally and psychologically from his apprehensions. Thus, by isolating himself, Howard is able to deal with supressed issues; which is contrary to Claire in Jindabyne. However, conversely to Jindabyne, A Small Good Thing does not utilise the aquatic setting as the most significant to depict isolation. Instead, Carver focuses on the hospital setting; “It was night, and cars were driving into and out of the parking lot with their lights on”. The vehicles operating around the hospital, signal life’s commonality of being senselessly in motion- opposing to the purposeful comings of doctors and waiting of updates, thus signifying a detachment to the outside world. Through Ann’s perception, the vehicles are unidentified; performing a noiseless procession of lights, a ritual of endless comings and goings. It is in this encounter with what a phenomenologist would call a plane of emptiness, implying the despair of isolation. Both Lawrence and Carver utilise setting as a stylistic feature to provokingly depict isolation to viewers and readers.

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