On Being a Man .. or not

“He looked at his hands which were white with work.  Every time he looked at them he knew he was a small man, small enough to be the jockey his father once wanted him to be.  What a thing, hoping for smallness in a man.  Well, he was small, in more ways than he cared to think about, but Sam never was a jockey.” (page 10)

“They were hard men here – crims, fighters, scabs, gamblers – but the government didn’t seem to give a damn who they were as long as they filled quotas.”  (page 12)

“Sam’s father Merv had been a water diviner.   …   He believed deeply in luck, the old man, though he was careful never to say the word.  He called it the shifty shadow of God.   All his life he paid close attention to the movements of that shadow.   He taught Sam to see it passing, feel it hovering, because he said it was those shifts that governed a man’s life and it always paid to be ahead of the play.  If the chill of its shade felt good you went out to meet it like a droughted farmer goes out, arms wide, to greet the raincloud, but if you got that sick, queer feeling in your belly, you had to stay put and do nothing but breathe and there was a good chance it would pass you by.  If you greeted it, it came to you; if you shunned it, it backed away.” (page 10-11)

“Sam’s mother slept in the narrow child’s bed in the next room.  She was a simple, clean, gloomy woman, much younger than her husband.  Even as a boy, he barely thought about her.  She was good to him, but she suffered for her lifelong inability to be a man.” (page 11)

WINTON, Tim. Cloudstreet.  Melbourne:  Penguin Books, 2007.

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