David Malouf's Ransom

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‘Ransom’ a retelling of Homer’s Iliad, is set in Ancient Greece and paints a story of a King by the name of Priam, going through a quest in order to retrieve his son’s dead body. During this journey there is an obvious growth in Priam’s nature and mentality. Through the use of Priam’s quest, Malouf is able to portray how to live optimally as a human, and he does so by commending the actions of those closest to their nature, which is human. Malouf highlights the ‘dark’ nature of grief and how that is a consequence that could be delayed due to the heroic nature of the war. Moreover, the author suggests that there is a greater pleasure in living a life of a ‘simple folk’. Finally, Malouf stresses the need for a great family in order to fulfil…show more content…
Both Achilles and Priam are shown to be poor in the quality of being family oriented, instead they let their destructive war driven tendencies control them. Both lacking parental figures to guide them and as a result they reciprocate that with their own children. Malouf’s beliefs live vicariously through Somax, a man with ‘simple modesty and good will’ but what’s more, he provides the perfect example of how to be a father. He has been ‘wrapped up in his own thoughts’ about his granddaughter throughout the entire quest with Priam. Somax’s entire conscious thought allows no room for anything other than his ill granddaughter despite being on an epic journey is implied with the use of ‘wrapped’. As a result of Somax’s noble characteristics it makes Priam question ‘whether he had taken up’ the title of father ‘so easily’. This feeling of shame and dishonour causes Priam to realise the vitality of being a good father and the responsibility he must uphold. ‘Under the influence of [Somax’s] talk’ Priam is genuinely motivated to retrieve Hector’s body not because it’s what his duties demand, but as his role as a father. This is symbolic in ‘ordinary mule cart’, something so plain and simple, represents his utter determination. At the end of the journey Priam ‘snuffles and rubs his nose’, a sign he is crying, symbolic of Somax’s ‘snuffles’ which is an ‘old habit’ of his, this action suggest Priam has finally grown into the man that Somax has intended him to be. Priam’s human nature here of crying and showing grief and love for his son is exalted as ‘beauty turns her head’, a mule which represents the pleasures of life is present. Malouf undeniably believes that family values should be upheld in order to be human and feel an incomparable sense of

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