Owen Marshall’s short story “Prince Valiant,” is a very confronting story for any reader based around a stereotypical farmer in New Zealand. The novel could be broken into sections firstly the author describing the classic state of a New Zealand farmers quarters. Told from a first person perspective by Owen Marshall in the quarters was a new young man who was rather a “top class shearer.” Neddy he was called who is the protagonist and the main talking point in the text. It was seen that Neddy had this wonderful great life, but driving himself to drink every night showed that he had many flaws. Commonly throughout the world we see people do these kinds of things to try get away from their problems. Drink driving and unsafe driving is a huge problem throughout New Zealand and is a very frowned upon aspect giving especially New Zealand a bad look. Statistically young male drivers nearly 50% of death tolls and accidents on the roads due to young male drivers, Owen Marshall hence trying to highlight how he has been affected by it and hence maybe wants to put a stop and make an impact not these shocking statistics. Owen Marshall throughout the text demonstrates Neddy to be quite relaxed and there was nothing he said bad about him, only the banter that I could imagine would happen within the quarters. Which shows grief from Owen Marshall as it was a true story. Finding out after he died that he had a really terrible life gives the people a feeling that they could have done something to help, its a common problem throughout the world where people and authorities only trying to fix the problem after something bad has happened. As terrible as it is to say it is a nice feeling to know he died doing something he loved. Commonly we see this with elderly people going out doing things they have wanted to do.

The short story objects a life many New Zealanders will not know, and we see a strong connection between the isolation Owen Marshall felt now that he reflects on it. This isolation I believe is speaking on behalf of many farmers throughout New Zealand and the world. Starting of with the lines “there’s some ugly country in New Zealand; don’t let them tell you it’d not so.” I believe Owen Marshall is speaking on behalf of all the other farmers that are so fed up with what landscape that surrounds them, although most people would genuinely see it as beautiful. This feeling of isolation due to the landscape speaks about the people who lived here even Owen Marshall saying “ugly country breeds ugly people I suppose.” This use of pathetic fallacy really shows a lot about the people involved and shows this isolation made them not realise there was anything going on in Neddy’s life. You think city people; hard working, tired from long hours in offices etc, or someone living at the beach, chilled and alternative. These stereotypes really do co relate with emotions I believe. We often see throughout the world, people taking for granted what they have, and how they only come to realised how privileged they actually are eventually. For example commonly throughout the world we see people even take for granted there family or friends, they only come to realise once one friend moves away from home, they realise how much they miss them. This has a mental impact on most people as they reflect on what could have happened or what they could have done. This isolation mentally impacts them furthermore, deteriorating social aspects of life and their physical wellbeing. Personally from growing up on a farm from when i was born, till 6 years old, I had a complete innocence to this isolation. I never gave recognition to my parents of the long mornings and days they went through, and am personally thankful they took me off the farm to have another perspective on life. I believe growing up on farms and being isolated on a farm for a few years, puts you in a mindset that you can only farm for the rest of your life. It takes a strong-willed individual or individuals to take a step outside of this and that’s what I believe my parents did and I am proud and recognise now what they did.

After the shearing gang had finished a mob of sheep they decided to go have a few beers out in town. Neddy was a self driven man and like to “play his tapes, drink beer and gaze over the Sinclairs raddled land.” He was liked well enough and rarely talked in a group with the rest of the shearers. Neddy “had more beers than usual,” shows that Neddy did a lot of drunk driving as he alway drove to see the girl he fancied in town and also drove around by himself drinking. Throughout the world today we see people doing something seen to be wrong in society, although themselves never had been told its bad or don’t actually realise what they are doing, even being watched by by-standers. It is a bad and a disappointing look I believe on people who have the power to potentially stop this, as these fallonies could put others lives or reputations at risk, as it did for the Sinclairs farm as “It didn’t say much for our company.” An example we see throughout the world today especially with the exceedingly terrible statistics in New Zealand is family abuse, and unhealthy and toxic relationships. So many people are aware of this going on in someones life, they just choose to stay out of it as they don’t know and have never been taught how to take action. Again the people that are abusing family members or being abusive to their friends or partners, obviously have grown up with this in their life and know no better. In both cases highlighting that due to the ruralness of the location and people to afraid to speak out about abusive family etc the people doing the wrong doings are always going to get away with it there is simply no cops there or no-one doing anything about it. I have experienced In my life someone who I knew a tiny little bit who died at an age just older than I am now in a car accident, I had a few encounters with him and I thought he was a classic guy and very funny. All younger kids like talking to an older kid as they look up to them, this was my case and now that he is gone I feel as though I wish I got to know him more. I believe these situations in our life if you are in it or a by stander it has detrimental impact mentally, putting people sometimes in a feeling of innocence in all situations. I can’t say I have ever been aware of any abusive relationships or families but I can imagine how heart breaking it would be as even when you see two parents fight, it is a sad feeling as you have been brought up your whole life being innocent to this feeling.

I would highly recommend this short story for someone who is able to make sense of it as some of the language is quite puzzling sometimes. I would recommend it because firstly it highlights a key issue in todays society of surrounding people have no idea what is going on in others life. It almost gives a key message to just say are you sure your alright as there is always no harm in trying, or even telling someone to stop doing a certain thing. These words from peers could really have a significant impact on the dejected person. It highlights isolation of farmers and maybe isolation of all people doing something repetitively for a long period of time and how impacting it can be. I recommend this as all these ideas that are brought up genuinely you will be able to relate in someone way and be able to realise these a re common every day problems as I did.







Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Jesse, well done for making a number of personal comments about the text. I would have a read through of this response (out loud) and ensure that your expression and word choice is accurate. Also, consider how you can place additional evidence (quotations) from the text into your point discussion – there is room for more supportive evidence throughout the paragraphs.

  2. Hi Jesse, in addition to the comments made above, I would be careful when using wider world examples like Donald Trump and the “firearms bill” in America to connect to this “rural” issue in the text. I see the connection that you are trying to make but the two contexts are quite different. Your connection to male drunk driving in New Zealand is strongly connected to the text so consider developing this part of the response further.
    * Please speak with me or send me a comment through your blog if you have any questions.


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