Peter Carey Character Analysis

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Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang published in 2000, uses minor characters in the text which are significant as they have major impacts on the ideas explored in the text such as idea that traditional views of masculinity are in conflict with current Australian values. The significance these characters have in our response and understanding of this idea help the reader understand the weakness of patriarchy in society and associated gender norms that oppress certain characters in the text such as Mary Hearn, Fitzpatrick and his other members of his family. The historical novel explores the life of Ned Kelly in colonial Australia as he struggles with difficulties with the authorities and various relationships in his life. Peter Carey …show more content…
We can see the significance of minor characters towards this construction of masculinity when two male minor characters, Brooke Smith and Detective Ward, act brutally and unjustly towards Mary Hearn and her baby, “O give my baby back Mary cried she darted forward but were knocked away she had no more power than a plover squealing around a raided nest.” Through a metaphor, Carey compares Mary’s maternal instincts to a plover showing her protectiveness towards her baby which contrasts to Brooke Smith who puts the baby in danger. This supports cruel and dominant behaviour displayed by men as in the text they fear to be emasculated by adopting feminine roles. We can see their distance to feminine roles especially nurturing, “Of course Fitzpatrick had no interest in a baby and once he struck a match and frightened George to death he declared himself very bored.” Fitzpatrick 's cruelty towards the child is shown through a hyperbole used to exaggerate his brutal and abusive character. This highlights male aggression associated with masculinity and reinforces female gender roles such as passivity and nurturing. Through the minor character of Harry Power we can see his significance …show more content…
Their characters conflict Ned’s view of masculinity and are significant in our realisation of the weakness patriarchy holds in society as they constantly let down Ned’s expectations of ‘manliness’ that constrains his character. Transvestism in the novel through John Kelly disgusts Ned and causes his distancing from this character and his clinging to masculinity as a shield against his father’s shameful secret, “‘I lost my own father from a secret he might as well been snatched by a roiling river.” The use of tone highlights how hurt Kelly was by his father’s cross-dressing as we can see through his bitter attitude towards his father, resulting in the foreshadowing of his insecurities and anger later in the novel that result in his aggression and flawed psyche. Ned Kelly’s brother also engages in cross-dressing which stresses the damaging nature of traditional views of masculinity on men and society “it were the dress that made my stomach knot a mighty anger come upon me.” Peter Carey uses an idiom to portray Ned’s anger towards transvestism when he finds Dan Kelly wearing a dress. Dan Kelly’s character allows the reader to realise the issue of Ned’s perception of masculinity and it’s damaging nature towards his personality and relationships, we can see how it results in his violent language and

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