liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

QotD: from Death of a Riverguide (1994 novel)

They spend all day in their dripping wet rainforest camp. The men stay in their tents and their sleeping bags as if they existonly only to live in them. The women do what the men are always too tired or too uninterested or too caught up in a conversation about sport or politics to be bothered doing. They work. They peel vegetables. They collect firewood. They fetch water from the river up the steep and awkward bank to the campsite. They wash dishes. They help the guides organise the camp, unpacking and packing barrels. Repairing equipment. The men reserve their energies for some future conjectural at of courage. The women's courage is of a type that endures this day of rain. Meanwhile the men get depressed. The men feel some embarrassment that women are on the same trip and doing things that really only men ought be doing. The guides prefer it. Nothing, for a river guide, is worse than an all-male trip. They are boring and lazy and inclined to foolhardiness. They are considerable work to look after. They are generally not in the same class for company. Aljaz likes sitting down with the women around the fire....
--Richard Flanagan

"...Why do you reckon the rich are rich?"

The question is rhetorical. Aljaz looks out the window. The question does not interest him. He looks at the cars shuffling bumper to bumper along the freeway, looks at the endless expanse of housing, and wonders about the lives of all those who live in those houses and who drive those cars, what it must feel like to be anchored, even if it is only to a steering wheel for forty-five minutes every day getting to and from work. And then he wonders if perhaps they are maybe all like him. What if they were? What if nobody was anchored but everyone pretended to be? A panic arose within him and quickly reshaped itself as his old fear, this time scared of this new thought. What if nobody knew where they came from or where they were going? For the first time in many years he sensed what was wrong with him might not be entirely his own fault, or capable of solution by him alone. But it was only a fleeting sensation that had passed almost as soon as he was aware of it.

'Why, do you reckon?' asks the taxi driving, repeating his question, throwing his left arm about in a gesture of contempt....
Tags: australia, books, guiding, identity, men, quotes, river, sexism, shame, whitewater, women

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