3. An imaginative and interpretive composition which appropriates the style of the original text (1,200 words) PLUS a critical analysis of your own work and the extent to which it fulfils task requirements.
Story Name: Archer’s flight
Before us the thick dark current flowed. The ceaseless, fluctuated gurgling of the flow continued – taunting, beckoning, and asking us to cross it. The gurgling continues – now the crust of the river itself shimmers with reflected light. The muddy water accentuated with the rays of the sun. An odd coupling.
Mestre said we should wait a while, allow for the rain to settle down – to wait for the flow to regulate itself, allow the river to calm. We were stuck here then. Progress vetoed – Mestre is very much the dominant partner here. Mateship only gets one so far, then matters of financial backing come into it. I was talented sure, but it wasn’t my cash we were carrying with us. It wasn’t my cash we’d hauled from Nowra, to where we are now. And it wasn’t my coin or note that would be backing Arch and me. It’d be Mestre’s.
To his credit, he was fair. But no fairer than my talent warranted. We’d come too far to find a replacement jockey. Others would complain Arch had been walked too far already. Horses had died at other meets after falling. That was without tiring themselves first on lonely, godless five hundred-mile treks.
"You’d be pressed to find somebody else to follow you on this Road." I said, more to break the tense silence than anything.
"The prospects of winnings are more enticing than you let on. You want this. I want this. Other Jockeys in Nowra alone wanted this. But I chose you – you’re the only one with the bond. You know how to work Archer without destroying him."
I looked across at Arch – he was in good nick. Although the forearm musculature was dwindling, that was nothing new. Sprinters could keep that up. Hell, even on middle distance runners it began to subside. But on five hundred-mile walkers . . . well the results were evident.
All in the name of coin. I wonder if Archer will hold up – he’s the best horse by far, and relatively unknown in these parts too. We’d get good odds on him for sure, especially once they heard of this journey. The trek was suicide – but winning would set Mestre up for a stable.
I’d develop a reputation as well – Mestre knew that also. He drove a hard bargain. Reckoned that a good reputation would benefit me more than my earnings. I couldn’t fault that – it would.
To get this far, I had to call upon some loans in Nowra. Friends in high places, you know. But all that increased the pressure all the more – it was no longer my money and my winnings, but rather that of investors. I would have to cover my debts regardless of the outcome of the race, win, lose, rain, hail, high way man or shine. Only a final cut of the winnings would be mine – it was the reputation and potential to use Archer as a stud which I was looking forward too. The field itself was sparse – Archer should have very little competition. Being the underdog, his weight would be down and odds would be up – the perfect combination from my perspective.
Cutts called on me again. To discuss the usuals I assumed. Money and the speed of progress. So long as the man wasn’t on a horse, impatience would fill him. While on the horse itself, odds, money and difficulty would form a muddled blur – irrelevancies in the face of one thing.
"We should cross now – it’ll only continue to rise. Then the bank will be swamped tomorrow morning."
"You know as well as I that we can’t afford anything to happen to Arch. We’ve simply gotta wait, there’s no other option – a stumble, twist, fall – anything on this river bed will be the end. Three hundred miles back the way be came, with no horse, assets or money simply because we couldn’t wait a day or two. We’ll be there on time, be patient."
"But who’s to say it’ll only be a day or two. We’ve already wasted weeks on these damn river crossings -–we should have gone another way."
"But we can’t. We’ve chosen this way and now we must stick to it – either it’ll work or it won’t. It’s my neck on the line as well as your damned reputation. I’ve got just as much to loose."
"You’ll loose money is all. Time only becomes a factor for you when it impacts upon your pocket. Mateship is only a value when you can call upon favours and prevent the division of your loot."
I left Cutts to grumble quietly to himself. The tent had to be set up – well away from the river as well, the banks would soon crumble as the river rose. The inexorable swelling of the beast. Devouring the land through which its silvery tongue lashed.
In the distance, I saw Cutts begin to open Archer’s saddlebags. Looking for tobbaco no doubt. I didn’t begrudge his use of it either – he’d be calmer to deal with. More apt to sleep. Although the supplies were dwindling, maintenance of his happiness was important. The relationship couldn’t be broken – the race was at stake.
Cutts flailed for the pack in the river. Jumping, going under, he went under and all the time Mestre yelling at him to grab the tobbaco. Cutts howled back at Mestre – "If the darn tobbaco is so important, get it yourself." Names flew across the void – Mestre, Cutts, Mestre, bastard, layabout, bludger and slave driver. All over the open satchel. It opened. The dry, shavings
floating aimlessly – bobbing emptily along the river. Out of reach.
"You couldah caught it."
"And leave Archer?"
"I was here, all I’m saying is yah couldah courgh it. That’s all. Yah couldah courgh it."
"Well that’s your concerns, mine ‘re with Arch."
"What about us – we’re in this together you know. You and me. We both could ‘a used the warmth – particularly after this downpour."
"You didn’t seem so keen on mateship and solidarity with winnings last meet. I wager it’ll be the same come cup day – it always bloody is. Mestre and his training, eighty-percent cut. I know the drill. That’s all mateship is to you. Me ‘n’ Arch though – I’m a jockey. It’s just . . . you wouldn’t understand."
Cutts had hurt Mestre on this one. He wasn’t usually like this. The jockey-trainer relationship didn’t break so easy. Only 300 miles in. Not an alp in sight – the pain shuddered through me. The race wasn’t going to be easy. Then we’d have to do it all over again – me bearing the brunt all the while.
For the passion of one and the reputation of the other. I’d do it though – loyalty was mandate. Besides, they’d done me no wrong.
I resolved to fulfil my duty – the race had to be won.
A critical analysis of your own work and the extent to which it fulfils task requirements.
The short work of fiction, produced by myself entitled Archer’s Flight was designed to further explore the links between the influence of context upon a text itself. The story was designed to illustrate the centrality of the values of mateship, a work ethic and the landscape itself to the Australian experience of the 1860s. The story was loosely based around that of Archer, the first horse to win the Melbourne cup whom was rumoured to have walked from Nowra to Melbourne in order to participate. This was done in the absence of a rail link between the two regions – Archer went on to win both the first and second Melbourne cups, while an application bungle to the third resulted in Archer being denied entry to the race. The denial of Archer’s entry brought about the scrapping of a number of the other horses in a show of solidarity for Archer – leaving the competing field as the lowest ever experienced in a Melbourne Cup. Events such as these illustrated the spirit of mateship, which was integrated into the Australian identity during this time – which I hoped to represent in my own piece.
The theme of mateship and solidarity between Cutts and Mestre is explored throughout this piece. Cutts’ cynical observations over the value of companionship to Archer’s trainer Mestre reveal the importance he places upon this fundamental value. "Mateship only gets one so far, then matters of financial backing come into it" " Mateship is only a value when you can call upon favours and prevent the division of your loot." Further, his repeated jealous comments about the value of money to Mestre reveal the strains the journey has placed upon the relationship enjoyed between the two. Ultimately, however both remain in ultimate loyalty to Archer and the ultimate goal of winning the race. "Although the supplies were dwindling, maintenance of his happiness was important. The relationship couldn’t be broken – the race was at stake." This fact is represented through the care each of them illustrates for Archer’s wellbeing – this care extends beyond their financial interests and into the realm of emotional attachment to the horse. Archer’s own sense of obligation to the partnership and eventual resolve to perform to his greatest potential reveals that the sense of mateship and companionship (within the confines of the story) extends beyond merely the human experience. While Archer’s Flight does not develop upon identical themes to As I Lay Dying, it is able to explore the journey as both a unifying and divisive force within a text. Archer’s Flight while not developing upon religiosity explores the bonds of relationships from more than one viewpoint, in much the same way that As I Lay Dying explores the Bundren’s family bonds and shared experiences from a myriad of perspectives.
William Faulkner’s unique, modernist style is developed upon in As I Lay Dying. The novel, beyond the point of merely providing each character with a different perspective and voice is able to develop a stream of consciousness flow – with each monologue providing another piece to the puzzling whole. Further, Faulkner’s exploration of the Southern vernacular in the novel, in a similar method to Huckleberry Finn provides a sense of depth and reality to the epic journey of the Bundrens. Archer’s Flight is able to successfully replicate both the structure and brevity of each chapter of As I Lay Dying, however it struggles to develop the same individuality of character and immersion within the vernacular language found in Faulkner’s novel. While this does not detract from the values encountered by the story itself, it detracts from the sense of reality and immersion in a culture/context – as As I Lay Dying so aptly achieves. Archer’s Flight is developed appropriately for the audience it is intended for – high school students who themselves are seeking to develop links between the appropriation of ideals and emulation of different styles.