The Boy Behind the Curtain

by

Tim Winton

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Guns Symbol Icon

In The Boy Behind the Curtain’s title essay, the unloaded rifle that young Winton points at unsuspecting passersby symbolizes the general violence that often replaces dialogue in difficult situations. Reflecting on his boyhood habit of standing in the front room of his house pointing an unloaded rifle at strangers, Winton realizes that he turned to the gun when he felt he lacked the language to express himself. He recognizes that people around him with fewer resources and less support do the same, but in their case, it’s a loaded gun, and the consequences are terrible, even fatal. Winton considers the gun as having the same power as a religious icon and as being almost as universally revered as the dollar sign. Acknowledging that the gun is an easily accessible source of danger and wary of the temptation of power it presents, Winton refuses to keep a gun in his home as an adult. When he fires a rifle around his children for the first time—harmlessly, for fun—their shock and fear remind him that the gun represents the kind of violence he wants to protect them from.

Guns Quotes in The Boy Behind the Curtain

The The Boy Behind the Curtain quotes below all refer to the symbol of Guns. 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:
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
).
The Boy Behind the Curtain Quotes

Without words I was dangerously powerless. The gun served as a default dialect, a jerry-built lingo that may have been less sophisticated than a laundry list, but it came with ready-made scripts that had been swilling about in the back of my mind since infancy. These were storylines as familiar as the object itself. But the lexicon of the gun is narrow and inhuman. Despite its allure it was insufficient to my needs.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Father
Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 8-9
Explanation and Analysis:
Havoc: A Life in Accidents Quotes

Sometime during that long convalescence I came upon the helmet Dad had been wearing when he was hit. Made of laminated cork, it was cumbersome, and it felt unstable in my hands. The crazed pattern of cracks dulling its whiteness gave it an unnerving broken-eggshell texture. For a long time—for years, I think—I continued to seek it out, to turn it over in my hands, to sniff the Brylcreem interior, and try to imagine the sudden moment, the awful impact, and the faceless stranger behind all this damage.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Father
Related Symbols: The Hospital, Guns
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Twice on Sundays Quotes

Language, I was to discover, is nutrition, manna without which we’re bereft and forsaken, consigned like Moses and his restive entourage to wander in a sterile wilderness. As a novelist I seem to have spent every working day of my adult life in a vain search for the right word, the perfect metaphor for the story or sentence at hand, while so often writing about characters for whom words are both elusive and treacherous. I didn’t catch the bug at school, I picked it up at church.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Boy Behind the Curtain LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Boy Behind the Curtain PDF

Guns Symbol Timeline in The Boy Behind the Curtain

The timeline below shows where the symbol Guns appears in The Boy Behind the Curtain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Boy Behind the Curtain
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
...the front room of his house and aiming a rifle at oblivious passers-by. Though the gun has been battered over the years and painted an unsightly shade of brown by his... (full context)
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
Winton loves taking the gun out to shoot rabbits and foxes. On Sunday afternoons, he’s entrusted with five or six... (full context)
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
The gun Winton uses isn’t a particularly powerful or glamorous one, but he knows it can kill.... (full context)
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
...by; they haven’t done anything to him. The feeling of looking at them though a gun sight allows him to imagine them “transformed in an instant.” Winton doesn’t plan to put... (full context)
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
...implications of his actions. He didn’t know what it would’ve felt like to have a gun pointed at him; nor did he know how much trouble he would’ve been in if... (full context)
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
...an exciting setting, and the practice of finding a stranger and locking them in the gun’s sight was calming for him. He realizes that, at that point in his life, he... (full context)
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Creativity Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
...and after a few months his habit dies out. He becomes less dependent on the gun for a sense of calm. It turns out that his parents have no idea about... (full context)
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
...background. He was a mostly happy teenager, but someone in unhappier circumstances could’ve used the gun’s potential to tragic effect. The gun, he suggests, is a short-cut to the kind of... (full context)
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
...Winton doesn’t keep any weapons in the home, though his children are still exposed to guns in every piece of media. When his children are still very young, a man uses... (full context)
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
When Tim’s children hear a gun fired for the first and only time—on a paddock of Tim’s brother-in-law’s farm—their excitement quickly... (full context)