The Boy Behind the Curtain

by

Tim Winton

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Themes and Colors
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
Creativity Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Childhood and Home Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Boy Behind the Curtain, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Creativity Theme Icon

After injuring his back in a car accident as a teenager, Tim Winton’s plan to supplement his creative endeavors with practical work was no longer viable, and he had no choice but to support himself through his writing. While Winton turns to writing to analyze his fears, to strengthen and understand his sense of place, and to honor his childhood and the ones he loves, it’s also an act that’s fraught with questions of identity and class—and at times can be an almost destructively challenging activity. After a harrowing summer spent struggling with an unruly manuscript, Winton is so exhausted from writing his novel that the only cure for his restlessness is to get in his car and drive for days to reach the border. It’s clear that while writing is Winton’s occupation, it’s also an extremely vulnerable and intense activity that he can’t easily wrangle into a typical, dispassionate day job. He also faces insecurity as a writer whose craft enabled him to achieve a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle: though Winton’s successful writing career has allowed him to strengthen his own narrative as someone who comes from a working-class childhood, his success also distances him from that very narrative. And as an educated, well-read man, he feels alienated from some of his family members who left school without literacy. It becomes increasingly clear that the writing life is less a choice for Winton than it is an inevitable necessity; it’s something that draws him in despite its stresses and difficulties because he feels bound to tell stories, no matter how much pain is involved in the process. The Boy Behind the Curtain thus presents a complex and unromanticized picture of creativity; while the act of writing often serves as a lifeline for Winton, it can just as often be challenging and destructive.   

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Creativity Quotes in The Boy Behind the Curtain

Below you will find the important quotes in The Boy Behind the Curtain related to the theme of Creativity.
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:
A Space Odyssey at Eight Quotes

It sent me through a Star Gate of my own into an expanded reality. It wasn’t just my introduction to the possibilities of cinema, it was a wormhole into the life of the imagination, where artefacts outlive the tools with which they are wrought as well as the makers who once wielded them. In that parallel universe useless beauty requires neither excuse nor explanation and wonder is its own reward.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Twice on Sundays Quotes

Churchgoing was my introduction to conscious living. Nowhere else was I exposed to the kind of self-examination and reflective discipline that the faith of my childhood required. I’d be surprised if anyone at my boyhood church had read even a page of Tolstoy, but it seems to me now that the question that ate at him so late in his life was the central issue for us, too. What then must we do?

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

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:
High Tide Quotes

Ashore there’s a wary osprey astride a bleached stump and beneath him the charred remains of a bonfire from last winter. Drop your face back in and it’s something out of Kubrick, all hurtling colours and shapes and patterns so intense as to be slightly mind-bending.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
The Wait and the Flow Quotes

Waiting and flowing were anachronistic notions, they’d nearly become foreign concepts, but to me they were part of an imaginative lexicon, feeding something in me that had to do with more than surfing. The child of a pragmatic, philistine and insular culture, I responded to the prospect of something wilder, broader, softer, more fluid and emotional. It sounds unlikely but I suspect surfing unlocked the artist in me.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 132-133
Explanation and Analysis:

I show up. I wait. When some surge of energy finally arrives, I do what I must to match its speed. While I can, I ride its force. For a brief period I’m caught up in something special, where time has no purchase, and my bones don’t ache and my worries fall away. Then it’s all flow. And I’m dancing.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:
Letter from a Strong Place Quotes

I’m conscious that everything I see from here is named and storied, not just the wells and wishing trees and cryptic dirt mounds, but every hedge, it seems, every wood and boreen. All of it heavy with a past that’s palpable and rich, moving in its way, even if it doesn’t quite mean anything to me personally.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
The Demon Shark Quotes

When anglers like the legendary Alf Dean “fought” tiger sharks and great whites they did it for pleasure, for some sense of mastery, then they dragged them ashore and hung them from gantries. I remember enormous, distended carcasses suspended from meat hooks and steel cables on jetties on the south coast. The dead sharks often had their lengths and weights painted on their flanks as if they were machines.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
Lighting Out Quotes

First kill your camel. Next, light a big fire. After that get a cauldron big enough to hold your hapless dromedary. If it becomes necessary, hack the beast of burden to pieces and keep the pot at the boil for days on end. Then take a straw and a suture needle and begin spitting your rendered camel through the tiny aperture.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 247
Explanation and Analysis:

As I bore down upon them I saw the two wedgetails had the body of a third eagle between them. A little unlikely, but there it was. Probably mown down by a truck. They were struggling over the carcass, each bird with a wingtip in its beak so that in the midst of this tug of war the dead raptor rose from the gravel to its full span, dancing upright, feathers bristling in the wind. I was tired and slightly loopy, it’s true, but it looked to me as if that eagle were taunting me, capering at the roadside as if to say, Here I am, not gone yet!

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:
Barefoot in the Temple of Art Quotes

There were many things I didn’t understand, stuff that made me uneasy, stripes and splashes and globs on pedestals that had me scratching my head. There seemed to be no limit to what people could think of, and that was a giddy feeling. On and on the galleries went. And on and on I trekked, until finally I yielded in dismay, backtracked like a sunburnt Hansel and found my clan hunkered by the entrance, spent and waiting.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Father, Tim Winton’s Mother
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis: