The extract, taken from “Oscar and Lucinda” by Peter Carey set in the Australia, focuses on the theme of “seeing clearly” by one’s perceptions, which is presented by the narrator’s grandfather’s inability to see things clearly due to his insanity and overwhelming obsession in believing the “other voice”.
Throughout the passage, the priest’s misunderstanding of god’s voice is represented further by his actions, which also suggest that the madness inside him causes him to unable to differentiate voices from god or from others.The whole passage, written in third person “he”, which allowed the general overview of events, started with a parallelism between the state of glass church and the state of Oscar. The near-destruction state of the church, shown by “three panes of glass had cracked” parallels the deteriorating state of Oscar’s physical conditions, where he was “gaunt”, with “white unburnt rings around his eyes” which suggests the rest of his skin is burnt.He’s physical sickness is further suggested by the detailed descriptions of his physical body, where “his green irises were set in yellow whites and these were laced with fine red river”. The effect of the parallelism is that it provides not only a visual description comparing the two but also provides a connection between the two, linking their significances in the passage. The second paragraph intensifies the destruction of the glass church by not only describing further the destruction, where “another pane splintered”, but also describing the reason by it, the instability of the situation.This is shown by the unstableness of the glass church because it is on a boat that floating on a river of diversifying currents, as stated by “The platform beneath Oscar’s feet twisted”, and “vectors of force fought with each other for a resolution. ” The paradox is presented between Oscar’s physical suffering where his “sweat ran down his brow and into his eyes”, and his thank for god “for granting me this day”.
The effect is to further emphasis his insanity, where he doesn’t realize that he’s harming himself while misunderstanding god’s voice.His dream of transporting the church is built on unstableness, but he’s mind of believing that he is doing his will for god shows that he cannot see clearly the destination of his dream. The use of direct speech of his pray allowed readers to see inside Oscar’s heart, the level of insanity that drives his dream. Imagery is used where “it was a blemish on the sky, like something curdled-milky-white, like crinkled Cellophone”, to describe the disfigurement in the sky as well as suggesting disturbance in the priest’s mind. This supports the insanity state of mind described in the earlier paragraphs.The deception of the man inside the church, who is most likely to be Oscar, waving his gestures that seemed magical but actually “repelling large and frightening insects, reinforces the theme of Oscar doesn’t see clearly and that his mind is disturbed, distorted.
The phrase stating that Oscar is “inside the crystal furnace” is a hyperbole, exaggerating Oscar’s insanity by stating he’s staying inside a furnace rather than a glass church. Oscar’s craziness is further shown by the use of metaphor of the flies flying “against the glass in panic” and “bashed against nothing”, which demonstrates their craziness as well as Oscar’s craziness.The metaphor at the same time shows the “limitations of his own understanding”, his ignorant perception of god, which makes him trapped like the flies do. The effect of the metaphor, which compares Oscar and the flies, draws the two even closer, intensifying Oscar’s craziness. But unlike the flies, which are described in colors “blue-bellied” suggesting life and dynamism in them, the description of Oscar lack color, accentuating the effects of his obsession and craziness, which leads him to physical illness.The sense of isolation of Oscar is not only simply shown by the physical description of him being trapped inside the glass church, but also by the omission of other people talking.
Although the other men on the same boat are mentioned, there is no dialogue of them speaking to Oscar or within themselves, showing his loneness, and his self-enclosed obsession. The tone of the passage is heavy because the detailed descriptions throughout the passage, along with the implications that occur in many places, make the understanding of the passage uneasy.The technique of detailisation is present in the cracking of the glass church, with examples such as “another pane splintered and, this time, fell at the foot of the barley-sugar columns in the little chancel”. By describing the exact location of the pane splintering, the cracking of the church is presented specifically.
The use of contrast is used between the description of the body movements of Oscar and the description of the body movements of the boatmen. The boatmen’s actions do have meaning, since they are moving the boat, while Oscar’s body movements have no explanation as he “put his hands over his ear or waved them in the air”.It suggests that his body along with his mind isn’t at ease, presenting a parallel between the two. My personal response to the passage is that it is a very heavy passage reflecting the narrator’s point of view of his great-grand father’s obsession.
He explains his obsession through detailed language, which is presented throughout the passage. The passage arises the readers curiosity towards his great-grand father, and lets them see clearly the wrong perception of him.