Themes Found in A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove

Love and Family are core parts of the story, A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove by James Moloney. It is about a young boy who is looking to find who he is as a person, his identity. Along the way he learns to trust throughout many journeys of abandonment, therefore finding a family who loves and accepts him. Moloney’s inclusion of specific language features like, dialogue and metaphors help intertwine the themes of family and love throughout the book.  

The topic of love represents the conflict Carl and Harley face as they settle into life at Wattle Beach, especially when their Aunt Beryl says, “Who's going to love you if your own mother doesn’t” (p60). She is shown to believe that it is obligatory for your own mother to love you. Whereas in Carl’s inner dialogue, “Carl searched back through his memory for a time when anyone considered Harley in need of care rather than watching. Nothing turned up” (p107). He thinks anyone can show love to Harley, but nobody has. He feels Harley is unloved, nobody cared for him regardless of his unruly behavior. He feels Harley needs to be loved as his “bad behaviour” was caused from abandonment and distrust so he felt like he could do what he wanted because nobody genuinely cared. Carl may feel that showing care is showing love. The author's effective use of dialogue through the statements made by Carl and Beryl, reinforce the characters' feelings the characters feelings, thoughts, and emotions, representing their view on love.   

Family is the most evident theme presented throughout the book. Carl feels isolated and different compared to everyone else at Wattle Beach, clearly being an outcast through the start of the book. The thing that connects everyone else at Wattle Beach is their family. “Carl floated in a sea of families where everyone, it seemed, walked, spoke and laughed with at least one other – a daughter, a father, a mate.” (p23). Carl feels as if everyone is connected by family except for him. He feels family may be one of the main things you need to feel included. Metaphors were successfully used, conveying that Carl felt alone in a place full of people who had someone with them. “Even Skip talks about you like your part of the family…his only regret was how much it would hurt you to see the barge gone.” (p279), this scene shows Skip considering Carl's feelings as if he’s part of the family and part of the unit.   

The themes, family and love are the most prominent throughout the book expressed using dialogue and metaphors to bring the story to life. Moloney focuses on the relations each character has, helping us feel Carl’s isolation. The change between Carl feeling loved and part of a family unit really shines through as the contrast between isolation and love are written so distinctly. These two language features aid in conveying the emotions of each character very well, creating a book full of strong connections between the characters.   


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