Fly Away Peter

by

David Malouf

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Ashley Crowther Character Analysis

A wealthy twenty-three-year-old man who returns to Australia after years of expensive British schooling. Ashley takes pleasure in the “ragged” and unfinished qualities of the land he has inherited, making a point to let the property exist as it is while still finding ways to use and enjoy it. When he finds Jim Saddler birdwatching on the premises, he doesn’t ask him to leave but instead offers him a job, liking that Jim can tell him about the many creatures that fly through his property. Ashley likes to hear Jim name the birds they see as they move through the swampland together. He also likes to deliver long-winded speeches that are inarticulate and hard to follow, though he doesn’t mind sitting in silence, either. Before leaving for World War I, Ashley gets married and has a child. When he joins the military, he enters as an officer and finds that he is well-suited for this kind of command. Although he survives the war, he is wounded in the same battle that claims Jim’s life.

Ashley Crowther Quotes in Fly Away Peter

The Fly Away Peter quotes below are all either spoken by Ashley Crowther or refer to Ashley Crowther. 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:
Language and Naming Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Fly Away Peter published in 1982.
Chapter 1 Quotes

It was a new presence here and it made Jim Saddler uneasy. He watched it out of the corner of his eye and resented its bulk, the lack of purpose in its appearance and disappearance at the tree line, the lack of pattern in its lumbering passes, and the noise it made, which was also a disturbance and new.

Related Characters: Jim Saddler, Ashley Crowther, Bert
Related Symbols: Bert’s Biplane
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

He had a map of all this clearly in his head, as if in every moment of lying here flat on his belly watching some patch of it for a change of shape or colour that would be a small body betraying itself, he were also seeing it from high up, like the hawk, or that fellow in his flying-machine. He moved always on these two levels, through these two worlds: the flat world of individual grassblades, seen so close up that they blurred, where the ground-feeders darted about striking at worms, and the long view in which all this part of the country was laid out like a relief-map in the Shire Office—surf, beach, swampland, wet paddocks, dry, forested hill-slopes, jagged blue peaks. Each section of it supported its own birdlife; the territorial borders of each kind were laid out there, invisible but clear, which the birds were free to cross but didn’t; they stayed for the most part within strict limits. They stayed.

Related Characters: Jim Saddler, Ashley Crowther, Bert
Related Symbols: Birds, Bert’s Biplane
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

Ashley was too incoherent to have explained and Jim would have been embarrassed to hear it, but he understood. All this water, all these boughs and leaves and little clumps of tussocky grass that were such good nesting-places and feeding grounds belonged inviolably to the birds. The rights that could be granted to a man by the Crown, either for ninety-nine years or in perpetuity, were of another order and didn’t quite mean what they said.

Related Characters: Jim Saddler, Ashley Crowther
Related Symbols: Birds
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

But for Ashley this was the first landscape he had known and he did not impose that other, greener one upon it; it was itself. Coming back, he found he liked its mixture of powdery blues and greens, its ragged edges, its sprawl, the sense it gave of being unfinished and of offering no prospect of being finished. These things spoke of space, and of a time in which nature might be left to go its own way and still yield up what it had to yield; there was that sort of abundance. For all his cultivation, he liked what was unmade here and could, without harm, be left that way.

Related Characters: Ashley Crowther
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

It was a landscape, Ashley thought, that could accommodate a good deal. That was his view of it. It wasn’t so clearly defined as England or Germany; new things could enter and find a place there. It might be old, even very old, but it was more open than Europe to what was still to come.

Related Characters: Ashley Crowther
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

His voice was husky and the accent broad; he drawled. The facts he gave were unnecessary and might have been pedantic. But when he named the bird, and again when he named the island, he made them sound, Ashley thought, extraordinary. He endowed them with some romantic quality that was really in himself. An odd interest revealed itself, the fire of an individual passion.

Related Characters: Jim Saddler, Ashley Crowther
Related Symbols: Birds
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

[T]hey moved with their little lives, if they moved at all, so transiently across his lands—even when they were natives and spent their whole lives there—and knew nothing of Ashley Crowther. They shocked him each time he came here with the otherness of their being. He could never quite accept that they were, he and these creatures, of the same world. It was as if he had inherited a piece of the next world, or some previous one. That was why he felt such awe when Jim so confidently offered himself as an intermediary and named them: ‘Look, the Sacred Kingfisher. From Borneo.’”

Related Characters: Jim Saddler, Ashley Crowther
Related Symbols: Birds
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Jim regarded it in a spirit of superstitious dread; and in fact these machines too, in the last months, had entered a new dimension. After just a few seasons of gliding over the hills casting unusual shadows and occasionally clipping the tops of trees, new toys of a boyish but innocent adventuring, they had changed their nature and become weapons. Already they were being used to drop bombs and had been organized, in Europe, into a new fighting arm.

Related Characters: Jim Saddler, Ashley Crowther, Bert
Related Symbols: Bert’s Biplane
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

There were so many worlds. They were all continuous with one another and went on simultaneously: that man’s world, intent on his ancient business with the hoe; his own world, committed to bringing these men up to a battle; their worlds, each one, about which he could only guess.

Related Characters: Jim Saddler, Ashley Crowther
Related Symbols: The Old Man and His Garden
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Fly Away Peter LitChart as a printable PDF.
Fly Away Peter PDF

Ashley Crowther Character Timeline in Fly Away Peter

The timeline below shows where the character Ashley Crowther appears in Fly Away Peter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Language and Naming Theme Icon
Friendship and Human Connection Theme Icon
The swampland belongs to a young man named Ashley Crowther, who has recently returned from many years of schooling in England. Having come back... (full context)
Friendship and Human Connection Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
When Jim had started working for Ashley, his father was skeptical. A defeated, pessimistic man, his father believes Jim is destined for... (full context)
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Boundaries and Perspective Theme Icon
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Despite his father’s skepticism, Jim had accepted Ashley’s job offer. He feels a kinship with Ashley despite their disparate backgrounds, because Ashley has... (full context)
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Not only does Ashley understand that his own land truly belongs to the birds, he also senses that Jim... (full context)
Chapter 2
Time, Change, and Impermanence Theme Icon
Ashley is a serious and inquisitive man, even if he is often inarticulate. Interested in “social... (full context)
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Ashley likes the landscape that surrounds him, finding pleasure in its “mixture of powdery blues and... (full context)
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Ashley’s desire to acquaint himself with his property is what initially leads him to Jim. While... (full context)
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Ashley dismounts his horse and Jim hands him the binoculars, pointing out the Dollar bird. “I... (full context)
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Ashley asks Jim if he would like to work for him “on a proper basis,” making... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Time, Change, and Impermanence Theme Icon
While working as a birdwatcher for Ashley one day, Jim spots Miss Harcourt. This happens when he’s watching a sandpiper, a bird... (full context)
Language and Naming Theme Icon
...a voice with a British accent. “Me,” he says. “Jim Saddler. I works for “ Mr. Crowther .” Sounding as if it’s strangely faraway, Miss Harcourt’s voice returns, telling Jim to let... (full context)
Language and Naming Theme Icon
Friendship and Human Connection Theme Icon
...composition’s focus. It is, after all, “the sandpiper’s picture.” He resolves to show this to Ashley, and from this point on, he, Miss Harcourt, and Ashley become “partners.” A week later,... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Time, Change, and Impermanence Theme Icon
Friendship and Human Connection Theme Icon
When Ashley has visitors, Jim takes them on tours of the property. Driving them around in a... (full context)
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Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
On trips through the swamps with Ashley’s guests, Jim listens to the visitors talk about Europe and decides that it “must be... (full context)
Chapter 6
Language and Naming Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Impermanence Theme Icon
...a permanent place in the world, as Miss Harcourt did through pictures.” When he shows Ashley the lists, he’s pleased to hear his friend deem it beautiful. What he really appreciates,... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Time, Change, and Impermanence Theme Icon
Not long before Ashley and Julia’s wedding, Jim encounters a bird he’s never seen before. Excited, he brings Miss... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Friendship and Human Connection Theme Icon
Ashley arranges for Bert to take Jim up in the biplane, thinking it will delight him... (full context)
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Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Ashley doesn’t say much when Jim tells him he has signed up for the war, though... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Ashley Crowther looks at his company of men as they rest on the side of the... (full context)
Chapter 17
Boundaries and Perspective Theme Icon
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...his eyes and hears a voice calling his name. The voice, he knows, belongs to Ashley Crowther. Opening his eyes, Jim finds Ashley by his side, “also in the shambles.” Like... (full context)
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Time, Change, and Impermanence Theme Icon
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Back in the tent, Ashley asks Jim if he can hear him. When Jim confirms that he can, Ashley says... (full context)
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Jim lets go of Ashley’s arm and moves toward the garden, where a number of men are on their knees... (full context)
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...steer him wrong. He begins to “dig in earnest.” When he looks around to find Ashley, he discovers he’s no longer at his side. (full context)