Raymond Carver

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Australia Symbol Analysis

Australia Symbol Icon

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.  

Australia Quotes in Elephant

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:
Dependency Theme Icon
Elephant Quotes

Hell, I didn’t want to go to Australia. But once I understood this, once I understood I wouldn’t be going there—or anywhere else, for that matter—I began to feel better.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Related Symbols: Australia
Page Number: 398
Explanation and Analysis:
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Australia Symbol Timeline in Elephant

The timeline below shows where the symbol Australia appears in Elephant. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Drudgery vs. Escape  Theme Icon
Fed up with his family’s demands, the narrator fantasizes about moving to Australia. He writes his family letters in which he threatens to quit his job, change his... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
Drudgery vs. Escape  Theme Icon
The narrator doesn’t think his family takes his threat to move to Australia very seriously. His mother writes him back first, saying that she’ll go out and look... (full context)
Drudgery vs. Escape  Theme Icon
...second dream the narrator sits at his kitchen table, has some coffee, and thinks about Australia. This time, however, he thinks about how it must have sounded to his family when... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
Drudgery vs. Escape  Theme Icon
The narrator realizes that he doesn’t want to go to Australia after all—he’s comfortable where he is. This realization makes him feel better. He pours himself... (full context)