Richard Flanagan 's The Narrow Road

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Throughout Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North the ideas of expectation and what it means to be a hero are examined through Flanagan’s blending of history and fiction from a modern perspective that the reader can gain insight into how society and others shape and define us. Through the novel the reader is presented with two distinct and contrasting characters of Dorrigo Evans and Nakamura. While differing in actions and beliefs, both characters highlight the societal paradigm of their respective cultures and show how through others people within society come to fulfil their expectations, even if these expectations are something, which oppose our own personal values and expectations. It is through Flanagan’s construction of…show more content…
Through the character of Dorrigo Evans, Flanagan reveals key insights into the role that society plays in the development of people and the creation of heroes. Early on in the novel Dorrigo Evans is revealed to the reader to be an immoral man, “She knew he had not just a wife, but another woman. And, she suspected, one or two others”. Flanagan reveals this very early on to elicit an understanding from the reader about the character of Dorrigo. Due to the reader’s understanding that Dorrigo is not a ‘good’ man or a ‘hero’, the reader can understand the power of society and the situation in shaping and defining someone’s life. Throughout Dorrigo’s time on the railway he is forced into a role of leadership of his men, this is epitomised in his subordinates nickname for him of “Big Fella”, a character which exceeds the bounds of what Dorrigo is, someone who is larger and greater than Dorrigo could ever be. Flanagan’s placement of Dorrigo on the railway during his rise to heroism shows how the place is of great importance in how people are shaped. Due to the expectation of his men as a virtuous and good leader, Dorrigo is forced to assume this position of a leader and hero: “He understood that he shared certain features, habits and history with the war hero. But he was not him”. Through the
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