Fly Away Peter

by

David Malouf

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Fly Away Peter can help.
Bert’s Biplane Symbol Icon

When Jim watches Bert’s biplane roar through the sky at the beginning of the book, he resents its noisiness and its imposition, for he feels that this machine has encroached upon the territory of the birds he so admires. This immediately establishes a sort of tension between the natural world and the technological advancements that the plane represents. Jim is suspicious of these advances, noting that planes are “new toys of a boyish but innocent adventuring,” but they have already “changed their nature and become weapons,” since the military has started using them as part of a “new fighting arm” in World War I. Because of this sudden change in use, Bert’s biplane—and planes in general—take on a new significance in Fly Away Peter, representing the rapid changes that are inspired by the war and constantly unfolding around Jim.

Bert’s Biplane Quotes in Fly Away Peter

The Fly Away Peter quotes below all refer to the symbol of Bert’s Biplane. 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:
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 16 Quotes

[…] he was out of himself and floating, seeing the scene from high up as it might look from Bert’s bi-plane, remote and silent. Perhaps he had, in some part of himself, taken on the nature of a bird; though it was with a human eye that he saw, and his body, still entirely his own, was lumbering along below, clearly perceptible as it leapt over potholes and stumbled past clods, in a breathless dream of black hail striking all about him and bodies springing backward or falling slowly from his side. There were no changes.

Related Characters: Jim Saddler
Related Symbols: Birds, Bert’s Biplane
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

He saw it all, and himself a distant, slow-moving figure within it: […] the new and the old dead; his own life neither more nor less important than the rest, even in his own vision of the thing, but unique because it was his head that contained it and in his view that all these balanced lives for a moment existed: the men going about their strange business of killing and being killed, but also the rats, the woodlice under logs, a snail that might be climbing up a stalk, quite deaf to the sounds of battle, an odd bird or two […]

Related Characters: Jim Saddler
Related Symbols: Birds, Bert’s Biplane
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Fly Away Peter LitChart as a printable PDF.
Fly Away Peter PDF

Bert’s Biplane Symbol Timeline in Fly Away Peter

The timeline below shows where the symbol Bert’s Biplane appears in Fly Away Peter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Time, Change, and Impermanence Theme Icon
Jim Saddler eyes a biplane as it loops lazily above the Australian swampland in which he spends his days. There... (full context)
Language and Naming Theme Icon
Friendship and Human Connection Theme Icon
...in the large country house on the weekends, and he lets his friend fly the biplane out of the paddock on his land. (full context)
Chapter 2
Time, Change, and Impermanence Theme Icon
...so interested in “the air.” Although he himself doesn’t fly, his friend Bert has a biplane, and Ashley is happy to watch as Bert whips through the sky. Ashley has been... (full context)
Boundaries and Perspective Theme Icon
...listen to Ashley play music on an upright piano, and watch Bert “wobble” in his biplane in the sky.  (full context)
Chapter 8
Boundaries and Perspective Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Impermanence Theme Icon
Friendship and Human Connection Theme Icon
Ashley arranges for Bert to take Jim up in the biplane, thinking it will delight him to be in the air amongst the birds. However, he’s... (full context)
Boundaries and Perspective Theme Icon
When the biplane gets into the air, Jim looks down and sees that the aerial view of the... (full context)
Chapter 16
Boundaries and Perspective Theme Icon
...climbs onto the battlefield, he feels as if he’s watching himself from above in Bert’s biplane—watching as he makes his way across the field with bullets whizzing by and men beside... (full context)