Tim Winton and Isabel Allende have written stories that are worlds apart, however, the two texts that have been studied, That Eye, The Sky, and Eva Luna explore the themes of imagination and storytelling, trauma within a family, religion and faith and the endurance of suffering, together. The discussion that ensues will highlight the dynamics of these two texts and the compare how the authors differentiate similar ideas with various techniques, such as the protagonists point of view, their expressiveness and description and the authors’ own interpretations, giving rise to a greater depth of understanding on the reader’s part.
There are numerous ways in which a person can attempt to make sense of the world around them, and both Winton and Allende use the narrative point of view and the descriptive language spoken by their protagonists to explore how an imagination, stories and questions can be used as coping mechanisms to understand life as best they can. From a young age, Eva dives into her own imagination to escape the harshness of her life; she becomes lost in “never-ending voyages” of a sea landscape captured in a painting in Elvira’s home. Likewise with Ort, he escapes through his imaginative mind when he is experiencing certain times of stress in his life.
Winton ends almost every chapter with a comment on the moon, the clouds or that eye, the sky, almost as if Ort was summarising the events of that particular chapter using the sky, something that he feels as a protective force, giving him comfort. While Eva doesn’t question the events of her life, she understands the world and its darkness; she uses her uncanny gift of storytelling to create happier endings for herself and others, like re-creating Rolf’s past to help him overcome the sadness of his family history, giving rise to her sense of optimism in the world.
Contrasting with Ort, he attempts to understand the world and how he fits in with it all through asking questions, particularly during the troublesome times in his life, such as his father coming home after waking from a coma, Ort doesn’t fully understand what is wrong with Sam, and begins to question why this is happening to him. “This used to be a happy family,” Ort speaks short sentences, concise and to the point, telling the reader how it is, even if he doesn’t comprehend it most of the time.
Allende and Winton are the real storytellers, they both explore a persons’ ability to understand the sometimes dreary and depressing world around them from the questions they ask, and the use of their imagination and storytelling. Both texts demonstrate how a family is very important in the shaping influence of someone’s life, yet Allende’s interpretation of a “family”, is different to Winton’s.
Although Eva loses her mother, her only biological family, at a young age, she travels through her life with many different people that she comes to think of as her family, “in a way my patrones were my family”, while the focus of That Eye, The Sky, remains with Ort’s immediate family. Within each text, Allende and Winton contrast the protagonists “families” with others, emphasising the true value of one’s family. In Eva Luna, Allende describes the positive influence of Eva’s mother, who stays alive in Eva’s memories, and contrasts this with Lukas Carle, whose negative influence continues to haunt Rolf’s life.
Winton also compares and contrasts families in That Eye, The Sky, demonstrating how the Flack family deals with Sam’s accident, displaying continuous strength and optimism*** in comparison with the Cherry family, who fall into conflict and despair. Each family is different in various ways, and in these texts Winton and Allende explore, through comparison of other characters and their families, that a true family is one that determined by more than blood relation. Both Winton and Allende involve the subject of Religious belief in the texts, and how that differentiates from having a true sense of faith.
Both texts explore, through the detailed expressiveness of the protagonists, how characters are often found to have one without the other. What can be observed throughout both texts is the spiritual connection with nature that Eva and Ort share in place of the institutionalised faith they experience at one point or another. Eva has inherited her faith and spirituality from her mother Consuelo, whose experience of the convent where she was raised was one where she learned to fear God, yet “she preferred a more joyful, maternal and compassionate God. It is here that Allende uses humour to criticise the institutionalised faith of the convents. ***This is also described with Eva’s unfortunate misunderstanding at her confessional, and as she looked back on those years, she stated “I have no happy memories of religion,” her experience of faith is better explored through her connection with nature, her deep faith in people, and her constant search for something that is beyond reality, this particularly shines through the way she tells her story to the reader, “I came into the world with the breath of the jungle in my memory. Similarly, Ort finds an intrinsic faith in the environment around him, almost worshipping the sky as he feels the benevolent force constantly watching over him, protecting him and his family. His meticulous descriptions of the environment surrounding his home are a demonstration of the deep connections he has with nature, and how he feels within its protective hold.
A deep sense of faith is more than praying the Rosary morning and night, and Allende and Winton have explored what makes intrinsic faith more important than a particular religion to those characters who feel it within themselves. Just as Ort prefers to imagine happy endings beyond the reality of his world, so too does Eva, and as readers, we can find ourselves immersed in the stories within those two texts.
That Eye, The Sky, and Eva Luna are two texts that, although extremely different, can demonstrate and explore the same ideas. Those ideas that a person’s ability to imagine a powerful thing, that a family doesn’t have to be defined by blood, that a sense of faith is not being bound by the Church and that through suffering we can find our way are the ideas that have connected these two texts and through which the reader can truly appreciate and learn through a better understanding of these stories.