There is no doubt that henry Lawsons short stories capture unique cultural perspectives and ideas about identity. Lawson uses many different techniques to depict and illustrate the outback of Australia and the bushland. His short stories helped to shape a great image of Australia during the 19th and 20th centuries. The stories illuminate the harshness and severity of the land and how difficult it was to get by with little money and little help. He captures unique ideas about identity by using classic Australian characters and by using not yet developed characters. The setting in the stories are also very important in creating cultural perspectives and identity, most of his stories are set in small outback societies or just somewhere in the bush. Some of these stories include ‘The Drovers Wife’ and ‘Our Pipes’.
‘The Drover’s Wife’ depicts the independent life of an unnamed woman who is living in an extremely harsh environment for a woman and her kids to survive in. Lawson uses many techniques to describe the harshness of the land. The setting – the drover’s wife is set in a very remote area in the outback of Australia. “bush all round – bush with no horizon”. the writer describes the extremely unforgiving environment using repetition in the first paragraph, “no horizon”, “no ranges”, “no undergrowth”, “nothing to relieve the eye”. Isolation – “nineteen miles to the nearest sign of civilisation”. At the end of the story, another example of the landscape’s severity, “she hugs him to her worn out breast” this shows how the land can be very unforgiving to the woman and how hard the woman must work to keep herself and her children alive in the ruthless environment. The woman is depicted as a very independent woman who must get by on her own. She is also not given a name. “gaunt sun-browned bush woman”, this shows us how unforgiving the land can be to the people who live there. It also shows us that the woman looks after everything by herself. The woman’s children are also given a harsh description, “four ragged, dried up looking children”. This also reflects on the unforgiving nature of the land. The drover is always away doing other things. His wife states that he is cheating on her whilst he is away, “he may forget sometimes that he is married”. This shows how careless the Drover can be towards his wife.
‘Our Pipes’ consists some of the same characters from one of henry Lawson’s other short stories ‘Shooting The Moon’. It involves jack Mitchell and presumably the same narrator (who is not a fully developed character) from ‘Shooting The Moon’. The idea of the moon looking like a “big new copper boiler set on the edge of the horizon of the plain”, “lots of old rags and straw burning inside”, illustrates to us that the moon is a very orange colour. This can depict the harshness of the land as an orange moon can be caused by thick smoke from bushfires in the distance, this can also be related back to jack Mitchell’s childhood story about how he began smoking pipes. Henry Lawson uses repetition to show cultural perspectives, “swagmen know what that means” he says this when referring to how far they had walked during the day “we had tramped twenty-five miles on a dry stretch on a hot day”. By using the repetition, it tells us that they themselves are swagmen and are appealing to other swagmen. Swagmen are people who walk from destination to destination whilst carrying all of their goods in a swag on their back. In the short story within the short story, we hear about jack Mitchell’s mother who is in desperate attempt to stop jack from smoking. She eventually gives in and just lets him smoke. The narrator and jack Mitchell are classic Australian settlers, “we cursed society because we weren’t rich men.” This quote shows us that they are the underdogs in society, which can also relate back to them being swagmen.