Fiction of the 1930s and 1940s Book Report

Pages: 5 (1505 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Literature

¶ … fiction of the 1930s and 1940s, prompted the search for national epitomes. It was pursued vehemently and passionately. It brought about writing and methods which revealed both the fiction and the culture that produced it. Unlike other epitomes, which evaded contentious issues in Australian life, Linguistic epitomes, for example, focused on these issues. Epitomes such as these, figured prominently in the work of many writers in this and other periods.

In Hergenhan's anthology, the Australian Short Story (1988) Gavin Casey's classic "Short-Shift Saturday" published in 1937 adopts the quintessential interaction of mateship from the National inventory and uses it to discuss varying areas of social concern with the systematic, continual oppression of working-class women in Australia. What is so great about this short story is its ability to focus on the growing gulf between not only marriage partners, but gender equality. Australia, especially at the time, was very male-dominated.

Casey's story is set in a small mining town of Kalgoorlie. The story uses mateship to discuss how a man and a woman, in this instance husband and wife, react to a drunken miner being kicked out of a hotel. Casey makes precise and complex emotional and descriptive connections between the slowly damaging, domino effects of exploited labour on marital relations.

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Argued as the favorite parts of the story are the specific descriptions given by the husband and wife. For instance the woman sees the inebriated miner as a drunken beast. Don Bell, the miner, is viewed in a more sympathetic light by the man. This is due to the man's prior knowledge of Bell's silicosis and his impending death as well as the man knowing him through comrades shared view point of labour.

Book Report on Fiction of the 1930s and 1940s, Prompted Assignment

Gavin also highlights male relations in and out of the workplace. More over, the relationships allow for a soothing look at the parallel formation of closer and longer-lasting relations between married women. It shows that individuals normally change/adapt rather than succumb to death under the pressure of depressing and at times unbearable working conditions as well as routines. With change comes a change in their relationships as well.

Casey illustrates new, unfamiliar and, from a patriarchal viewpoint, threatening forms of human intimacy surface. With the differing perspectives of Bell, the man contemplates the divide between him and his wife over the years. This domino effect starting from Bell helps illustrate the connectedness of circumstance and interaction. "I wanted to touch her, make some sort of contact with her." He successfully demonstrates the man's need to escape his woes by hitting the bar as well as the inability of the woman to understand and cope with this behavior.

Interesting is the realization that "bars are the most cheerful places I know" and that mateship to a man is more fulfilling than the marital relationship. Because of this, the marital relationship suffers. The uneasy caution of the imminent character and behavioral change in the moral order observed in Casey's story is very much a preoccupation of the 1930s. As times and eras continue, national agendas evolve and change to suit the needs of the majority.

In conclusion, the quantity of types and epitomes Australian writers turned to as means of addressing and connecting the issues that arise on successive national agendas remains the same. The 1930's thru the 1940's as with "Short Shift Saturday" provide candor over gender equality. It shines a light on the differences male and females have between each other and what fuels it. Lastly it helps shine an eye to an otherwise ignored or misunderstood phenomenon within society at any given time.

Dal Stiven's "Mr. Bloody Kearns" is an intrinsic and linguistically stylized short story of fiction. The writer details the unhappy events of Bill and his duties as a train guard. Although the language was a bit too "irish" sounding as it was read, it did lend a bit of "grime" that perhaps is apart of the "hard-knock" life of the train guard, Bill. The use of the word "swaggies" and "swagman" also provide a rich and seemingly genuine experience to the reader. Below is in depth analysis of the whole story.

The first paragraphs of the story set everything into place. Even with just a few sentences there's already a clear picture of Bill and his discontent for the station-master. It shows he doesn't like his job except for the part that he gets to leave the little town and the urgent need for him to deal with any "swaggies." He also states how little he gets paid in comparison to what he deems is a lot of money to stay in his town: "a thousand a year."

The descriptions set well what Bill has to do, for how long and how he feels about everything. "The long train swayed solemnly" and "looking at the wheat-fields, Farmhouses…geometric haystacks…windmills. He mouthed his disgust." Stivens does well in showing Bill's compassion for the swag men who jump the trains and demonstrates this by effectively stating the swag men looked for work, were starving, waiting for aid from the government. Stivens also shows his thoughts on management with his reflection of the uncaring and unsympathetic Mr. Kearns.

Mr. Bloody Kearns, who diligently demands there to be no swag men jumping the train, blinds himself to the struggles and the reasons why swag men exist. He even wants Bill Dawson to swing with "piping" and use brute force to keep the swag men from jumping the trains. Although not all people in supervisory positions behaved like Mr. Kearns, it does shine a light to a sometimes unseen work relationship and the empathy people like guards may have towards to the unfortunate. It also shines a light to the way people in better positions in life might look down on the misfortunate and perceive them as bums regardless of their circumstances.

Those circumstances as mentioned in the middle of the story for the guard, Bill. Bill shows need to fulfill the strict demands of Mr. Kearns for fear of losing the money he needs to save his child's sight. This along with the descriptions of his nervousness like: "busy in the van penciling in books, re-arranging mail-bags" brings the impending need to complete task or risk losing his job, his money, and a possible swag man outcome.

Bill doesn't want to use violence to kick out the swag-men; he doesn't want to lower himself into becoming someone he doesn't like. The use of the word: "basher-gang" and "long-lipped" continue the expression of resistance Stivens so well expresses. In the end, he has no choice and as the story progresses goes to check to see if there are any swag men.

The encounter with the swag men becomes difficult as the swag man mentions his distaste for Bill's unexpected call to duty. It seems as though the swag men who managed to jump the train successfully viewed Bill as the "decent cove" or the easy one to take advantage of. As the story makes it out to be, it is in fact true that Bill let swag men be long enough to ride the trains. Does this however strengthen Mr. Kearns viewpoint of the swag men being lowly bums?

What appears to be a weakness in an otherwise well told story is the decision to prove Mr. Kearns right in the way swag men should be treated? The guard was told to use violence to get the message across to the swag men, but Bill didn't want to.

He tried to ask and then later demand for the swaggie to leave but was met with the swaggie grasping onto his throat. The swaggie was violent first when in reality; most of the time "swaggies" and people like them seldom risked violence to get away with something. Usually… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Fiction of the 1930s and 1940s.  (2012, December 16).  Retrieved January 26, 2021, from

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"Fiction of the 1930s and 1940s."  16 December 2012.  Web.  26 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Fiction of the 1930s and 1940s."  December 16, 2012.  Accessed January 26, 2021.