The Battlers Commentary Essay

In this passage, the third person omniscient narration reveals Snow’s environment and his solitude. By including a lack of action, description of Snow’s relationships with others and of the hostile imagery relating to the weather and elements, Tennant creates a foreboding atmosphere to the effect that a sense of expectancy and anticipation immediately heightens the tension at the opening of ‘The Battlers’.

As Tennant delays the action in the opening of her Australian novel, a sense of anticipation is created in the expectant audience. The inclusion of narrative hooks at the passage’s opening, such as ‘If Snow had taken the road through Belburra, instead of the track through Currawong, his whole life would have run a different course’, alludes to a great change of attitude or events, yet because no further action or events are narrated in this passage and Snow remains an unchanging static character throughout this extract, this delay in the expected life-changing action serves to dramatically heighten the tension in the novel. Furthermore, Snow’s destination is revealed to be ‘home’, although he is unenthusiastic about this, which raises further questions in the reader’s mind as to why this is the case and whether or not he gets there, as Tennant includes no mention of Snow’s progress towards home in the passage. A lack of action is mirrored in the setting of this extract as well as the opening plot, as Tennant includes images like the stretching planes and ‘telegraph poles dwindling to a pin-point and disappearing over the rim of the earth’ to communicate a sparse and desolate setting containing few signs of life, with no interactions or anyone to help Snow if the different course he is apparently taking in his life is a menacing one.

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The very slow pace at which Tennant’s solitary character moves across the isolated ground further increases the reader’s sense of anticipation, as pre-modifying adjectives such as ‘lumbering’ and verbs like ‘crawled’ indicate a slow pace of progress, causing an impatient sense of anticipation to increase even more in the reader, as Tennant has revealed Snow is on his way to a life-changing course, but he does not seem to be expecting it at all and is getting there very slowly. This tension reaches its climax at the end of the passage, where Snow sets off towards the ‘promising wethers’, and Tennant, with no further description of the action or event the reader expects, and giving no further details as to whether Snow is now approaching the life-changing part of his course, creates a foreboding atmosphere in her novel, as anticipation of action heightens with the reader’s expectancy of action.

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