Table of Contents
- Essay 1: How does Flames portray the relationship between humans and their environment?
- Essay 2: How does genre contribute to the storytelling effect of Flames?
- Essay 3: The characters in Robbie Arnott’s Flames commonly share an amount of pain and sorrow. Discuss.
- Essay 4: Flames is a story about connection. Discuss.
- Essay 5: More than anything else, Flames illustrates the importance of family. Discuss.
Essay 1: How does Flames portray the relationship between humans and their environment?
Flames, written by Robbie Arnott, is a novel that delves into the intricate connection between humans and their environment. Set in the rugged and wild landscapes of Tasmania, Flames tells the story of the McAllister family whose lives are entangled with the natural world around them. The novel explicitly portrays the diverse encounters of its characters with nature, showcasing the capacity of the natural environment to both nurture or harm human beings. Moreover, Arnott’s utilization of magical realism to personify the Gods of nature enable readers to interpret the relationship between humans and nature from a distinctive new perspective, hence evoke more comprehension of the repercussions of human activities on ecosystem balance.
In the novel “Flames,” the natural environment is portrayed as a source of comfort for many of the characters who seek solace in its embrace. Edith’s love for the forest in Notley Fern Gorge is evident through Charlotte’s words, who describes it as a place where “[Edith] found calmness”. The fact that Edith’s ashes were spread in the forest and the way she reincarnated with “skin carpeted by …fern” highlight the deep spiritual connection between humans and nature, implying that the author believes in nature as the final resting place of the human soul. This intimate relationship between humans and nature is further exemplified by Charlotte’s own strong fondness and intimacy with the environment. She often tries to “blend in with the fields and snow” and after her mother’s death, she would occasionally “stares at the forest, touches plants, and sniffs rocks” to release her pain. It thus conveys that the environment of the forest provides a source of solace and tranquillity that can console a wounded heart. Additionally, nature is not only tied to humans through the landscape but also through the living creatures. Nicola “displays [an extraordinarily high] level of care and affection for the livestock”, indicating her strong affinity with the animals. The shared attachment and passion for nature is perhaps the reason why Charlotte and Nicola feel affectionate towards each other. The novel suggests that many characters are willing to develop a strong bond with the natural environment as they receive positive nurturing experiences from it.
The duality in relationship between human and nature is also examined, as nature is not always kind and enthusiasitic, but sometimes acting toxic and cruel. The death of the seal exemplifies the harm of human and nature’s bonding can be inflicted by nature itself. Ever since the orcas slaughtered Karl’s seal, which he treated as close as his “other half”, the brutality of nature has inflict enormous trauma and despair in him. The novel portrayed how Karl is almost haunted by the ocean and the predator, with every“clicking sound” become a “backdrop to his days that he feared and hated” that reminds him of the brutal scene of his seal’s broken body. The rule of nature and tis cycle of life and death could inevitably devestated human who are deeply connected to it. However, the dreadful destruction of human and nature’s relationship could also be induce by human’s conflicting mind and greed. The manager of the Melaleuca farm Allen experienced a dramatic change in attitude toward the wombat. Allen previously treated the herd of wombat as “the cloest thing to family”, and felt so dismayed by the massive killing of the wombat that he felt his mind “plagued …by images of the wombat corpses”. Yet, his sympathy for the wombats was short-lived and hypocritical,as he become anxious about the loss of stock of wombat and inability to supply pelts to clinets.His affinity for wombats is gone and turns into hate, leading to an insane massacre of lives.This antithetical transformation in Allen’s relationship with wombats, from being family to bloody slaughterhouse, may embodies the susceptibility of the human-nature relationship to greed and corruption. Arnotte presents the idea that human and nature’s relationship is not always harmonious.
In addition, Arnotte masterfully incorporate supernatural elements into the nove to enrich the exploration of human-nature environment. The Nature’s God narratives expand readers’ perspectives, encouraging them to see the impact of humans activities on nature from a non-human viewpoint. Through the deified beings’ eyes, such as the River God taking the form of a water rat, Arnotte condemns the colonists’ callous disruption for the natural land and rivers such as “ sunking [iron] into …rivers, building dams, droping anchors, hooking fish”, would lead to water pollution.The death of the Hunt God,which Esk God bemoaned, symbolizes the extinction of Tasmanian Tiger caused by overhunting of human. Through which, human wrongdoing in biodiversity reduction is denounced. Additionally, Jack, the fire God, reflects on the usage of fire in smelting and “mould… into infernos that could crack and melt the ores …”, alluding to fossil fuel burning leading to greenhouse gas emissions. The novel’s portrayal of God’s reflections on human industry and history provides a unique perspective on human actions’ contribution to ecosystem degradation, urging readers to consider the long-term consequences of human activity and how it may damage the balance between human and their environment.
Overall, Flames offers a poignant reflection on the complex relationship between humans and their environment, showcasing how nature can be both a source of comfort, but meanwhile the human-nature relationship could also be vulnerable.The novel also underscores the negative impact of human activity on the environment, whether through pollution or destruction of ecosystems through the use of magical realism.