Waterland and Possession, Oscar and Lucinda's narrative takes place mainly in the past and the text does not develop its modern narrator as much as the other two novels. Like the other two novels, however, Oscar and Lucinda constructs a cyclical notion of time by using a non-chronological narrative structure and images to connect the two times. Claiming that he has a Prince Rupert drop "right here" (108) with him, the narrator introduces this symbol in present time, tells the story of Lucinda's first experience with one, and then weaves the symbol throughout the novel. The narrator also continually reminds the reader that Oscar's story is the story of his forbearer. Describing his family as having "red hair" and "long, thin necks like twisted rubber bands" (1), the narrator introduces imagery that he and others use to describe Oscar throughout the novel. These images connect the different temporal narratives. Furthermore, when relating Oscar's story, the narrator occasionally displaces the narrative to the present time by referring to Oscar as "my great grandfather." Not simply a story set in the past, Oscar's story is a story of the narrator's origins and the origins of the modern world.

Similarly, the inclusion of the aboriginal character Kumbaingiri Billy constructs a cyclical time frame by introducing a direct descendant of the natives who experienced Oscar's transport first-hand. Giving the aboriginal perspective, Billy's narration of the exploration illustrates the history and present-day impact of the trip. Billy's knowledge of the event shows how Oscar's trip became a part of native history and how this history is kept alive through the tradition of the oral narrative. Billy's retelling of the story connects the past with the present. The inclusion of the native perspective also suggests the existence of a past before the Victorian past when the native land was untouched by colonization.

Other parts of this essay

Last modified 1 March 2004

Last modified 1998