“The Shark Net” written by Robert Drewe
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“The Shark Net” written by Robert Drewe is a non-fiction Autobiographical text which is part-true crime and part autobiographical. Robert Drewe captivates the reader’s interest through the events, places, and people of early his childhood and adolescence, and the Eric Cooke serial killings. By using techniques such as symbolism, language and selection of detail, Drewe positions the reader to respond with intrigue to his experiences.
At the age of six Drewe was required to move from Melbourne to start a new beginning in a foreign environment ‘Perth’. From his early childhood growing up with different children in both the coastal environment and Melbourne he begins to use the frequent repetition of “The Sand People”. Language has been used to juxtapose the culture, the way of living in Melbourne compared to the way of living in Western Australia. He refers to the “Sand People” to be living close to the dunes, and “Sun and wind had rearranged the appearance of the Sand People, too-tanned, freckled, scabbed and bleached them. With their darker skins, red eyed, raw noses and permanent deep cracks in their bottom lips, they looked nothing like Melbourne people”. This quote symbolizes this importance of the beach and sun to locals, and underlines the differences of the people in Melbourne and Perth.
Once Drewe leant the way of life in his new environment ‘Perth’, he becomes increasingly more aware of the social indifferences between himself and his father and mother. The lack of communication with his father, and the over protectiveness of his mother creates a barrier between them which escalates into an on going conflict.
This is reinforced when Drewe’s father avoids certain aspects of parenting and instead hands him a “Father and Son” booklet, and again when he discovers that he and his mother have different perspective views on life, that they have been slowly drifting apart during his adolescence. Emotive language has portrayed Drewe in these issues to feel like an outsider, “I was a stranger in our own kitchen”. This is shaping the readers to feel more sympathetic towards Drewe in a positive manner. It has also emphasized that Drewe may have not enjoyed his adolescence as much as he could have because of the lack of communication when regarding topics such as ‘sex’.
Rottnest Island is a ‘seductive place’ where Drewe experiments with sex and romance. Rottnest Island also known as ‘The Isle of Girls’ is a considered by Drewe to be full of ‘easy going girls’. “Everyone I knew associated Rottnest with sex”, “It was where West Australians lost their virginity”. Drewe uses selection of detail through quotes and thoughts to paint a ‘portrait of a place and time’. This technique shapes the readers to believe that there is only one purpose for this holiday destination, ‘sex’. Drewe uses selection of detail to allow for the reader to visualize only one point of view. Drewe does not provide great detail on the main purpose of Rottnest, such as; it is mainly used for a family getaway, and recreational purposes.
Serial killer Eric Cooke stabbed with a hatchet and scissors, ran over, and randomly shot, killing 8 people with no motive. These series of murder events reeked havoc in the middle-class suburbs of Perth causing anxiety. Drewe shapes the reader to understand the life, and character of Eric Cooke. He does this by introducing his insanity in the court room, and then establishing that he has a speech impediment caused by a hair lip. Drewe uses descriptive language of Cooke to shape the readers to respond in a negative manner, and to take dislike. Towards the end of the book when Cooke is on death row, he reveals the family of Cooke. Sally his wife explains the household abuse she had to put up with before Cooke’s hanging, “Life wasn’t easy with Eric Cooke. He killed every bit of trust. Every bit of respect, admiration, love, was gone at the end. I was there just because I was a wife and that was it”. This quote takes a dramatic effect on the readers, to not feel any sympathy when he was hanged in 1964.
Drewe writes “this book of memory and my portrait of a place and time. Memory may falter and portraiture is a highly subjective endeavor, but I have tried to tell a truthful story”. This quote is accurate, even though he told one side of the story.
Robert Drewe captivates the reader’s interest through the events, places, and people of early his childhood and adolescence, and the Eric Cooke serial killings in his memoir The Shark Net. By using techniques such as symbolism, language and selection of detail, Drewe positions the reader to respond with intrigue to his experiences.