The narrator’s fantasy of changing his name and moving to Australia exemplifies the faulty way he thinks about his current situation. He believes that he has only two choices: he can continue laboring to support his family’s demands, or he can escape his family’s dependency by moving to Australia. Put another way, he believes his choice is between drudgery and escape. As the narrator admits, he doesn’t “know the first thing about Australia.” To him, it symbolizes freedom—it’s nothing more than a country far away from his problems. But when the narrator realizes that he doesn’t actually want to move to Australia, it’s not that he’s giving up his freedom. Rather, he understands that he’s been unfairly interpreting his relationship with his family: they’re not parasites living off his hard-earned cash, they’re people who love him. The narrator realizes that his place is here, helping his family through a difficult time.
The Elephant quotes below all refer to the symbol of Australia. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:).
The timeline below shows where the symbol Australia appears in Elephant. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.