Blog: The Woman at the Mill (A) Australian Literature

Blog: The Woman at the Mill (A) Australian Literature



By Evan Papamichael

Manuscript Master Evan


Source:“The Woman at the Mill” pp.91-103 by Frank Dalby Davison in Australian Short Stories, Selected by Kerryn Goldsworthy, 1992, JACARANDA WILEY LTD, Milton, QLD, Australia


The story commences with reference to the kitchen. This is a: family-oriented, peaceful, safe, haven - where we can all identify as: home-sweet-home. A “little yellow-faced alarm clock [was] ticking loudly on the shelf above the recess” (p.91). The clock was small, meaning that it was insignificant, in theory; but, not in practice. Time has a specific element, here. Did it mean that, time is ticking away slowly but quickly; and, hence that we are wasting our lives, away? Does it suggest that life is so precious; that we do not make the most of it; and, that we take it, for granted? Could it be that in such a: small, confined, space; as a kitchen, so many unbelievable - and fascinating things can take place - without us, even taking notice?

The author writes: “the alarm-clock [was] “ticking loudly”. Maybe the clock ticking loudly personifies, our: conscience, thoughts, feelings, desires; or maybe, it is our - heart beating with: excitement, anger, love, desire; together with, thoughts of: happiness, depression, excitement, grief and anger or dismay.

It was a: “yellow faced alarm clock” (Ibid). Does this portray an image of: the all- powerful, sun above us; which gives us a source of life; through Vitamin D; and, helps our flora and fauna to grow and thrive; and, keeps our planet - in a healthy existence - and rotation?

The clock: “marked the hour at noon” (p. 91). It was midday; and, was this a time of significance to the characters, in the story; or to us readers, or both? What importance is there: when morning ceases; and, afternoon begins and what awaits us, at evening?

What will happen to: our protagonist called, Irene Lawrence? What is approaching her? The suspense builds up gradually. We read: “In her ears were ringing the sound of a horse’s hoof-beats” (p.91). We forget about human existence for a moment; and, imagine the sight of: a horse. Was this animal travelling on its own, or was a man, riding it? Who was this, mysterious man? What association did this have, with Irene Lawrence? The: ”ringing sound” meant that, if she was; alarmed and bewildered for a moment - she was expecting something remarkable - to happen to her. The horse was a symbol of nature; and, the friendship and love; which, animals and the natural species: on our earth and in our life, bring, to us. This was a brilliant and captivating Introduction.

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