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Presented as Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Sarjana Sastra
in English Letters
Student Number: 984214083
Student Registration Number: 980051120106120082
A. Background of the Study
A novel is one kind of literary works besides drama and poetry. It can be
considered as a literary work since it can give us pleasure as well as knowledge of
human affairs. Murphy in his book says that the greatest novels reflect life and are
compounded similarity of many elements, just as life is a mixture of joy,
disappointment, hope, sorrow, humor, suffering, and success (1972:133).
By reading a literary work such as novel, the readers expect that they can
get something from it. Analyzing the novel helps to discover what the novel
would like to tell.
One of aspects that contribute the story that makes the story flows lively is
character. Character is the doer of the story. The story becomes nothing when
there is no character. In this writing, I intend to discuss the three major characters
of the novel The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. I want to analyze three
major characters: Fee, Meggie and Justine. They are three generations of the
A person’s character develops over the time. It could be by parents,
family, environment, society, time, age, etc. The closest environment of a child is
his family, especially his parents. From being born, a baby depends on his parents.
Every parent wants to guide their child to be a “good person” but sometimes
parents forget that they are just human beings who have limitations. They are not
angels for their children. No one can be perfect parent but at least they try. It is
hard to tell the difference. And children become like their parents. They have a
close relationship, a blood relationship. One of the reasons that two people decide
to get married is having a baby.
Those characters deal with marriage. For Fee and Meggie, they got
marriage because of wrong reasons. Pierce Dufoyer in his book, The Choice of A
Husband gives definition of a marriage as the following, “A marriage is the
complete and harmonious communion of two human being of different sex”
His opinion clearly says that marriage is a serious problem. The complete
and harmonious communion of two human beings of different sex needs
consequently a serious preparation dealing with a long process in advance to
understand each other well. Prior to the final, it might be said that marriage is the
last step of human relationship.
According to Bowman, marriage on the other hand, is not something that
“comes naturally”. It is not the product of inborn behavior pattern; it is a
institution. It is a cluster of customs and group habits, of attitudes, ideas, and
ideals, of social definitions and legal restrictions (1954:28).
Marriage is hoped to be last for forever. It means that marriage is not
something that we can play with. It is hoped to happen just once during a life
time. A marriage should be based on love. It is a very important aspect, and it
might lead to destruction if the couple does not have it.
What will happen if in a marriage there is no love? Love is the basic
element in a marriage. If a family does not have a strong basic foundation how
can they build up a house? The parents who are maladjusted in marriage find it
difficult or impossible to be a good parent.
When someone is still single he does not study in school how to be a good
parent. There is no formal institution which teaches a person to be a good parent.
But someone can learn to be a good parent by reading book, asking expert, or
learning from our parents, etc. There is a relation between maladjusted parents
and maladjusted children, who in turn tend to become maladjusted parents
themselves. This is a vicious circle that tends to repeat itself.
A child needs love and acceptance by others, at least his parents, he must
feel free to establish himself to be different from others and grow; make changes
which develop oneself, learn to solve problems, and explore his talent/ potential.
Acceptance is like a fertile ground that possibly a small seed can grow to
be a beautiful flower. Acceptance needs to be shown; for example by touching,
smiling, etc. Children need encouragement to determine themselves and children
get self-respect. There is nothing more important than a child feeling that he is
loved and accepted. Because accepting what he is, is an act of love.
After love and acceptance, the greatest need of a child is room to grow. He
needs respect for his individuality and an area in which he can make his own
decisions. Children need also training, guidance and supervision. If a child does
not get what he needs, he may become rebellions or sink into becoming a mere
appendage of his parents. Unhappiness in the home and the failure of effective
parental guidance makes a child turn away from home and look in other directions
to satisfy his desire/wants/needs.
I would say that a child should be respected especially for his
individuality. If parents respect a child’s individuality, parents have built up his or
her self-respect, without it he or she is nothing. By respecting him or her as a
person parents put a value on him or her, which brings out all that is best in him or
her. There is a power in every child for good or evil. By treating him or her with
respect parents release the power for good. If this is combined with parental love
and good examples from adults around him, a child can be guided toward maturity
(http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/winter 95.Nadeu.html).
From this novel, I learn that these three major characters have the
similarity of what happened in their lives, especially to repeat the same mistakes
of the previous generation. Experience is a good teacher. A good teacher should
warn us to take the benefit of what happened toward our parents. It gives us signal
to avoid the repeating mistakes.
This novel tells us that parents, especially mother has a great influence
towards her children. How a mother threats her children from infant to adultness
gives influences in shaping the children’s characters development. If Fee respects
Meggie as a worth child, it gives influences toward Meggie to raise her own
daughter with respect too. But the first generation gives a wrong influence to the
next generation; it drives the repetition of the mistake to the next generation.
B. Problem Formulation
From the background of the research stated above, the problem in which
the writer would like to analyze further can be summarized into some questions as
1. How are the three major characters described?
2. From their character development, what are the possible messages of the
C. Objectives of the Study
This objective of this study is to obtain satisfying answer for the questions
raised in the problem formulation. Therefore, the first aim of this thesis is to
discuss the character and the characterization of the three major characters in this
novel. The characterization will be analyzed by using Murphy’s theory of
characterization, it is a method to describe the three major characters in the novel
either through direct description by the author or indirect description by other
characters. The three major characters are Fee, Meggie and Justine. The last aim
is to reveal the possible messages expressed by the three major characters.
D. Definition of Terms
There are some terms that are used in this writing that I want to define to
make the reader easier in understanding this discussion because each term may
have its own meaning and interpretation. Those terms are character development
and message.
Perrin in Literature: Structure, sound, and Sense describes that all fictional
characters can be classified as static or developing. The developing or dynamic
character undergoes a permanent change in some aspects of his or her character,
personality or outlook. The change may be for a large or a small one, it may be
better or worse; but it is something important or basis (1974:71).
Thus, when we combine this term and character, character development
means the growth or the changing of a figure’s, thought, feeling, behavior, the
mental or moral qualities in literary work through the environment and successive
period as the result of his action to fulfill some motives regardless of the influence
of other characters or his past.
In New World of Literature, the word message is defined as the real
meaning or some easy conclusion that can be simply stated or summarized inside
a work of art (Beaty and Hunter.1989:899). The term leads to simplification and
gives the illusion that a work of literature exists for its statement that tempts the
readers with sweetness of the story to get the real meaning. Meanwhile John
Sinclair in Collins Co build Essential Dictionary defines message as an idea that
someone tries to communicate to people, for example in a play or a speech or the
meaning (1988:490)
In this chapter, the discussion is divided into three sections. The first is the
review of the related studies. Here, this study will provide some comments about
Colleen McCollough’s The Thorn Birds. The second is review of related theories,
which consists of the theories that will be used to support the analysis. The last
part will be the theoretical framework, which tells the readers how the theories
will be used in the analysis.
A. Review of Related Studies
In this section, I provide some comments and reviews about the novel, The
Thorn Birds by Colleen McCollough.
According to Langley’s The Pea Pickers, this novel in which the family
legend of the father’s wanderlust was so enticing that his daughter actually
(www.acurrentaffair.com.au/stories/397.asp to read Colleen McCulough).
The Thorn Birds was written by Colleen McCullough. It became the best
selling novel. It was also broadcast on ABC for 10 hours between 27 and 30
March 1983. While winning the 1983 Golden Glode award for Best Miniseries,
The Thorn Birds was not without its controversy. The subject matter-a priest
breaking his vow of celibacy- was contestable enough, but the fact that ABC
chose to broadcast the program beginning on Palm Sunday and running through
Holy Week, raised the ire of The United States Catholic Conference.
Some newspapers gave comment about this novel. Boston Globe said that
The Thorn Birds is the kind of book the word-blocking buster was made for. It
(www.acurrentaffair.com.au/stories/397.asp to read Colleen McCullough).
Publishers Weekly said that The Thorn Birds is the interweaving of love
stories from one generation to the next, the dramatic plotting, the sense of steadily
mounting tension; the believable characterizations are well nigh irresistible
(www.acurrentaffair.com.au/stories/397.asp to read Colleen McCullough).
London Times said that The Thorn Birds is a story, which is superbly told.
Miss McCullough deals with the vast canvas of characters with assurance
(www.acurrentaffair.com.au/stories/397.asp to read Colleen McCullough).
I agree with those comments. McCullough is a genius for combining three
generations of the Cleary family into one novel. This novel is a complex story of
the Clearys. They face experiences many tragedies and hardships including fires,
foods, droughts, and devastating deaths of loved ones. I truly enjoy how the
author used a lot of description and detail in the novel. This description enables
me to paint vivid pictures of the beautiful, Australian land in my mind, as well as
clear pictures of the many different characters’ inner and outer appearances. This
novel is worth reading to anyone who enjoys drama and romance, as well as
suspence, action and sadness.
B. Review of Related Theories
1. Theories on Character and Characterization
Character is one of the important elements of a story. It can be considered
as a person who has a role in a story. Abrams in his theory says that the persons
presented in a story are called the characters. The readers interpret the characters a
having certain characteristics in the way they play their roles that are expressed by
what they ay or their dialogue and what they do or their action (191:20). In other
word Abrams wants to say hat a character might be an actor in a story.
Harvey in Character and The Novel states that an author has a right to
create and present his or her fictional characters in the novel, whatever they look
like, their personality, and what the problem they might face. He adds that the
relationship between the author and the characters is like the relation between God
and his creation. The author must be both omnipotent and omniscient; we can see
the fictional character in the novelist private self, secret and entirely solitary
There are some characters, which appear in this novel. To understand the
novel it is important to understand the character. We cannot separate between
story and character.
There is no story, which does not have character in it. There is not a character,
which appears without a story. So the writer thinks to explain more about the
theory of character.
Character is defined by Abram in A Glossary of Literary Term (1981:2324) as
The person presented in a dramatic or narrative work, which are interpreted by the
reader as being endowed with moral and disposition qualities that are expressed in
what they say (the dialogue) and by what they do (the action).
There are some definitions about character. There are two kinds of
character according to Mary Rorhberger and Samuel H.Wood in Reading Writing
About Literature. They are flat character and round character. The flat character is
built round a single idea or quality. It is presented without much individualizing
detail and therefore can be adequately described in single phrase or sentence. And
the last is round character. Round character is complex in temperament and
motivation. This character is represented with subtle particularity.
Perrine says that the change of an actor or a character is something
important. The change of character must follow three criteria. The first criterion is
that the change must be within the possibilities of the character that makes it.
Secondly, the change would happen when the character finds the influence of his
environment toward himself. And the last is that the change must be allowed
enough time for a change of its magnitude believably to take place (1974:71).
Classification of the characters based on the criterion of the character
development is presented by Perrine in his book Structure, Sound, and Sense. He
classifies the character into a static character and a developing or dynamic
character. A static character is the same sort of person at the end of the story as he
was at the beginning (1974:71). This character does not have any changes in role
from the beginning of the story until the end, although there is a change in plot.
On the other hand, developing or dynamic character undergoes a permanent
change in some aspects of his character, personality, or outlook (1974:71). It
means that a dynamic character will have a change and development of events and
the plot in the story.
A character can be expressed by two ways. The first is by direct
presentation. The author describes directly about what a character is like. The
author describes the character by the physical condition in exposition or analysis.
And the last is by indirect presentation. The author describes a character by the
action. We can understand the character by paying attention to the speech, mind
or action. Characters should be dramatized their meaning, showing, speaking and
acting (Perrine: 1974).
Another way to understand a character in a novel is paying attention how
the author expresses his or her characters through (Murphy, 1972, 161-1673).
There are nine ways to understand a character. First is by personal description.
This way says that the writer explains to the reader about the physical appearance
of the character. Second is by other characters. Through the eyes of other
character, the author mentions his or her characters. The reader through the other
characters’ eyes would catch a reflected image of certain character. Third is by
speech. The personality of a character can be notified through his or her speech.
The speech can be the clues to interpret the character. Fourth is by past life. The
past life can give a hint to guess the character. The character is often influenced
by his or her past experience. Reader may depend upon the direct comment that is
given by the author, the character’s thought, conversation, or the medium of
another person. Fifth is by conversation of others. In a novel, there are dialogues
that are spoken by some characters about the character in the story. A reader may
refer to this conversation to know about the character in the story. Sixth is by
reactions. The author may also mention the personality of the character by letting
the readers know how the character reacts to various events or situation. Seventh
is by thoughts. When the readers read the description of what a character is
thinking about, they will get knowledge of the character. In this aspect, the
character is able to do what we cannot do in real life. It is impossible to know
what a person is thinking. But in literary work the author is like “god” who knows
everything about the character even his or mind. Eighth is by mannerism. The
author may describe a person’s mannerism on his or her character that may also
tell the reader something about the character. And the last is by direct comment.
When the author uses a direct comment to describe his or her characters, he or she
will tend to judge them. The author will state directly whether a character is kind
or bad, beautiful or ugly, etc.
A character also can be seen by his or her performance. Ian Milligan says
that there are two characters based on his or her performance. The first is major
character (1983:115). The major character appears more often than others. The
major character performs an important role in clarifying the theme of the novel, so
the readers’ expectation depends on his or her idea. The second is secondary
character. The secondary character appears in certain setting, only necessarily to
become the background of the major character.
Rohrberger and Woods believe that characters have particular personalities
and physical attributes that distinguish them from the other character, therefore an
author needs to do what is called characterization. What is meant by
characterization is the processes by which an author creates characters, the
devices by which he makes us believe a character is the particular type of person
he is (1971:2021). The same definition is presented by Trimmer by saying that
characterization is the way the author creates, reveals, and develops the characters
in a story (1992:235).
Rohrberger (1971:20) supported by Timmer (1992:335) presents two
principal ways in the process characterization. The first principal is the direct way
in which the author tells the readers the physical appearance of the character
directly. The writer describes the character’s performance in order to make the
readers to be able to grasp character’s characterization. The second principal is
dramatic or indirectly way. It presents the character’s behavior, personality, and
values, when he or she is giving opinion about the situation he or she faces.
2. Theory of Message
According to Beaty and Hunter in New World Literature, message is the
real meaning or some easy conclusions that can be simply stated or summarized
inside a work of art (1989:899). The term leads to simplification and gives the
illusion that a work of literature exists for its statement that tempts the readers
with sweetness of the story to get the real meaning. Meanwhile John Sinclair in
Collins Cobuild Essential Dictionary defines message as an idea that someone
tries to communicate to people, for example in a play or a speech or the meaning
Roman Jacobson as quoted by Jeremy Hawthorn in A Concise Glossary of
Contemporary Literary Theory says that sending the message is the general
function of language. He adds, in order to be operative, message needs several
requirements. There are six factors determining the effectiveness of message
itself, addressee who receives the message, context in which the message referred
to, code being used for the meaning of a particular word, and contact both
physical or psychological connection between addresser and addressee to stay in
communication (1992:73-74).
Sometimes, message is considered identical with theme although in fact
they do not always refer to the same meaning. Both message and theme can be
viewed as two elements that have a kind of similarity or own the looking like.
Nevertheless, theme is more complex than message. Message has no direct value
as suggestion addressed to the reader. Message, thereby, can be viewed as one of
the elements that form a theme in simple form. But not all of themes are
considered as message (Kenney, 1966:89).
Meanwhile, Beaty and hunter also discuss the term “theme” and
“message”. They say that the difference between theme and message is while
message seeks to inform or convince, theme seeks to have the reader comprehend
and emphasize so that the ideas are more broadly accessible (1989:899).
When we are talking about message, we are also discussing moral. It can
be said briefly that generally morals means a teaching of good and bad (Kenny,
1966:89). According to Burhan Nurgiyantoro in Teori Pengkajian Sastra, moral
in a work of literature is called as message. This element actually is the
background of the work of literature; it is the idea that forms the background of
creating the work of literature (1995:322).
Every work of literature consists of and offers moral message. Of course
there are many types of moral lesson conveyed. The type of message occurs in a
literary work depends on the author’s belief, wish and interest. The type of the
moral lesson itself, we may say, includes unlimited problem. It involves all
problems in life, especially those that are related to human right and dignity. In
general, problem of human life is divided into three problems; they are the
problem of the relationship between a man and himself, the problem of
relationship between a man and his fellowman including his relationship with his
surrounding and the problem of relationship between a man and his God
(Nurgiyantoro, 1995:324).
Fiction, especially novels often has more than one moral message. A
novel, of course, may consist of and offer one, two, or three of them at once with
their details forms. Besides that, a work of literature may contain several moral
messages that can be classified into major and minor messages (Nurgiyantoro,
3. The Relation between Parents’ Behavior and Children’s Personality
As the smallest unit of society, family has a contribution is shaping
children personality. Robinson in his theory said that personality development is
ruled largely by the attributes at the family, especially the way the parents behave
towards their children (in Sue, 1986:93). In that statement, it can be clearly
understood that parents take the biggest pat in shaping their children’s personality.
Sullivan said that if parents behave towards the children as though they are
worthwhile, the children are likely to develop a positive self-image and sense of
self-worth (in Sue, 1986:93-93). On the contrary, if the parents do not see their
children as worthwhile persons, and be little and antagonize the children, they
cause the negative self-image development of the children (in Sue, 1986:93-94).
There is a real need to develop methods for evaluating behavior that
include the total impact of the relationship between the uniqueness of the
individual and his environment. Some of the earliest knowledge of human
behavior was gained through diary records of infant behavior, usually recorded by
one or both parents who were the experimenters. Relation between people
especially parent and children are not static. They grow and mature as the
individuals gain insight and understanding of each other. Experiences in
successful and unsuccessful interaction with others tend to alter behavior,
particularly the behavior of the growing child. Becoming a socialized person is a
sow and lengthy process our society. Frequently the early stages of social
development are forgotten by the individual, and while he may honestly try to
recall his thoughts, feelings and attitudes, it becomes virtually impossible for him
to do.
Guidance is an important aspect of family responsibility, and knowledge
of how parents pass on family and cultural values could give insight into the
developmental pattern of the socialization of the child. Many child development
specialists have assumed that there must be a satisfying dependency relationship
with adults especially parents before a child can be secure enough to achieve a
good relationship with others.
Robinson in his theory said that personality development is ruled largely
by the attributes at the family, especially the way the parents behave toward their
children (Sue, 1986:93).
Parke and O’Neil formulate the parent’s role into six roles. First is a parent
as instructor. It means that parents give the order and information to the children.
Parents create and give some rules for the children to obey and to do something
for their own good. Second is a parent as educator. It means that parents give
knowledge of him things happening around them, not only intellect teaching but
also the moral teaching. Third is a parent as the advisor. It means that parents give
some advises on what happens and what will happen in order for him to be able to
come to the appropriate way that leads him to find the best solution for his
problem. Fourth is a parent as supervisor. It means that parents keep an eye on the
children. Therefore, the children are under controlled and keep away from
destructive and irresponsible behavior. Fifth is a parent as facilitator. It means that
parents provide some facilities to support the children’s development. And the last
is parents as role model. It means that parents give themselves to the children to
be the model they always look at. By doing so, the children have someone to rely
on in his life. He will sure that he will not get lost (1997:32-39).
Becker sees parents’ behavior as having three key dimensions:
involvement-calm detachment (in Craig, 1980:323). Some researches said that
restrictive parents tend to have dependent, submissive, and compliant children.
Although permissiveness is the opposite of restrictiveness, it does not necessary
produce independent children. Permissiveness is related to active, outgoing,
creative, and constructively aggressive behavior in children. Permissiveness in a
climate of warmth detachment seems to produce positive characteristics. In the
other hand, when permissiveness is accompanied by high hostility, it is more
likely to result in noncompliance and aggressiveness. A research on maternal
overprotection tries to look at the effect of both restrictiveness and permissiveness
when they are combined with great warmth and anxious emotional involvement
(Levy, in Craig, 1980:325).
Hurlock says that family can influence an individual’s personality pattern
(1974:351). Further she says that directly, the family influences comes from
identification, from unconscious imitation of attitudes, behavior patterns, and
from the mirror image of one self one develops by viewing oneself through the
eyes of family members (p.352).
4. The Role of Parents
Family is the smallest unit of society. It contains a father, a mother, and
children. Each member of a family has his or her role. What is meant by parents’
role is the dynamic aspect of the status as parents (English, 1970:13).
Parke and O’Neil formulate the parent’s role into some roles. Parents are
instructor, educator, advisor, supervisor, facilitator, and role-model. As an
instructor, parents give the order and information to the children. Parents create
and give some rules for the children to obey and to do something for their own
good. As the educator, parents give knowledge of the things happening around
hem. Parents do not only focus on the intellect teaching but also the moral
teaching, in order to bring the children into a deep understanding of the
environment. As the advisor, parents gives some advises on what happens and
what will happen in order for him to be able to come to the appropriate way that
leads him to find the best solution. As the supervisor, parents keep an eye on the
children. Therefore, the children are under controlled. Parents keep their children
away from some destructive and irresponsible behavior. As the facilitator, parents
provide some facilities to support the children’s development. They can facilitate
the children by giving him education in school, giving them facilities to do some
sports, and providing them with toys to play. As the role model, parents give
themselves to the children to be model they always look at. By doing so, the
children have someone to rely on in his life. He will be sure that he will not get
lost (1997:32-39).
Lidz, states that mother is the primary and major nurturing figure to the
child, particularly the small child. She is an expert in child-rearing techniques
(1968:56). In giving love and attention to the children, the mother also needs the
support from whom she can gain such a physical and emotional sustenance. What
a mother needs can be fulfilled by her husband. Mother’s behavior in conducting
her role affects the children so much. As the role advisor, when the mother gives
the children some advices but she does not try to solve the problem for them, the
outcomes were positive. The children will feel that their mother is a good friend to
share their problems.
The quilt and nature of the parental nurturance which the children receive,
will influence their emotional development, frustration, and his or her aggression,
anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, and anger which he or she experiences under
various conditions (Indriyani, 1999:2). Parents have a big contribution to the
children development. The positive or negative development of children depends
on what the parents do to them. Parents must play role in a proportional manner,
to gain the best result of their child’s development.
C. Theoretical Framework.
This theoretical framework contains some theories which support this
writing. The theories are the theory of character, the theory of message and the
theory of the relationship between parents’ behavior and children personality.
The three major characters that will be analyzed are Fee, Meggie, and
Justine. To understand those characters I use the theory of character. It helps me
to discover that the characters of Fee, Meggie, and Justine cannot be seen only by
their actions but by other ways which support to understand their characters.
The three major characters in this story are influenced by their parents. So
I use the theory of the relationship between parents’ behavior and children
personality. By using this theory, I find that Fee’s parents, Meggie’s parents, and
Justine’s parents have a great influence toward their daughter.
To find the message of this story, I use the theory of message. It is not as
easy as reading this book but I have to analyze also other intrinsic element of this
story to find out what might be the possible message.
A. Object of the Study
Colleen McCullough was born on June 1, 1937 in Wellington, western
New South Wales. Colleen was educated at the holy Cross College, Sydney;
the University of Sydney and the Institute of Child Health Care, London. She
established the Department of Neurophysiology at Royal North Shore hospital
in Sydney, where she remained for five years. After working in England and
United States of America for number of years in her chosen field, Colleen
retired to Norfolk Island in search safety and solitude. It was here she met her
future husband, Ric Robinson (www.acurrentaffair.com.au/stories/115.asp).
Colleen’s first novel Tim which was published in 1974, was followed
up with more best selling novels including The Thorn Birds, An Incedecent
Obsession and The ladies of Missalongi. Many Colleen’s works have been
made into films, and interestingly, The Thorn Birds and Tim have been made
into musicals
The Thorn Birds was published by Avon publishers of Bard, Camelot,
Discuss and Flare Books. It was distributed for first time on June 1979. The
Thorn Birds has seven chapters. Every chapter used the name of the characters
on this novel. Not only the name but it used also the periodic of time. First
chapter is Meggie 1915-1917, second chapter is Raph 1921-1928, third is
Paddy 1929-1932, fourth is Luke 1933-1938, fifth is Fee 1938-1953, sixth is
Dane 1954-1965 and the last is Justine 1965-1969. The function of using the
name of character is to show that every chapter has one character as the focus.
B. Approach
I want to centralize the study so I use psychological approach. In a story
there is a relation between character as a part of literary work and psychology.
According to Rohrberger and Woods both literature and psychology discuss
people and human lives. The difference is that literature discusses man and his
life which the writer expresses through language in the work of literature and
based on psychology point of view, psychology is a study of man’s life
together with his mind and behavior(1971:6-15). They summarize that this
approach brings us to analyze the novel from the psychological point of view
of human being (1971:13).
Rohrberger says that most authors employed Freud’s psychology on
human personality (p.6-15). Guerin says that psychological approach is an
excelelent tool for “reading beneath the Lines” (1979:121). He explains that
the psychological theory is most commonly used as an interpretive tool by
modern critics and to show by examples how the reader may apply this mode
of interpretation to enlarge his understanding and appreciation of literature
C. Method of the Study
This writing uses the method of library research. All the sources,
which support this writing, were taken from books read in the library.
In analyzing this writing, I read and reread the novel as the first step
taken. While reading the novel, I tried to find out the character development of
Colleen McCullough since she was still teenager until she is mature. To
support the finding, I took some books as the guidance. The books are A
Glossary of Literacy Terms by M.H Abrams, Understanding Unseen by M.J
Murphy, and other related book.
The second, I determined the three major female characters and their
characteristics in the novel by their personal descriptions, actions, speeches
and their conversations with other characters. To analyze this point, I used
some theories related to the character.
After analyzing both the three major female characters, I defined the
message of the novel by relating between three major female characters based
on the analysis done previously. The last step was drawing conclusion of the
whole analysis.
This chapter deals with the analysis of the problem formulated in Colleen
McCullough’s The Thorn Birds. It is divided into two parts. The first is how
McCullough are describing three major female characters. Colleen McCullough
The Thorn Birds contains numerous characters all of which are female. The most
important characters in the novel are analyzed in details below.
1. The characterization of three major female characters
a. Fiona Cleary
Fiona or Fee was a very beautiful woman. She spoke little and never
share an opinion. Fee was one of those people whose feeling was so intense that
became unbearable and unlivable. She was also described as a woman who was
always so feeling less.
She was a silent woman, not given to spontaneous conversation. What she
thought, no one ever knew, even he husband; she left the disciplining of
the children to him, and did whatever he commanded without comment or
complaint unless the circumstances were most unusual (p.12).
She was from the rich family so when she married she did not know
anything about housework’s. Paddy, her husband, thought her to work house, to
sweep the floor, wash and iron clothes.
Her feeling was empty or dead when her father asked her to marry a
man who she was no love. After her married, the days were long and bitter with a
sense of failure. For almost 25 years she had been crushing emotion out of
existence, and she was persuaded to marry a man, Paddy, who could accept her
pregnancy. It seemed the best way to safe her family from humiliates. Finally
Fee obeyed. She married with the chosen man. Fee had no feeling with her
husband. As the reaction she had never complained, or even laughed.
Paddy had always known that Fee loved her baby, Frank, was like her
soul than other children, especially her daughter. In her opinion, a daughter was a
younger version of oneself who will do all the things she has done, cried the same
tears. She believed that what happened with her would happen to her daughter.
Fee realized that what happened with her was no good. She got pregnant when she
was no husband. Fee ever broke her parents’ heart, humiliated her parents’ pride.
Fee saw that her life was unworthy enough. When Fee delivered Meggie, Fee saw
Meggie as a reflection her mistake in the future. Fee was not the sort of person
one could approach nor would Fee do the approaching to Meggie, her daughter.
Fee cast her no more than a passing glance before leaving; there was no
mystery to Meggie, she was female. Fees knew what her lot would be, and
did not envy her or pity her. The boys were different; they were
As a parent, Fee was supposed to be able to become an educator, an
advisor and a role model especially for her daughter, Meggie. Fee also can not
have a nice conversation with her daughter.
For Fee, she supposed that mothers were always a little blind about their
daughters until they were too old to be jealous of youth. Fee was jealous that
Meggie had a time not to repeat Fee’s mistake in the past. Meggie had time to be
more than Fee. Fee could not turn back the time to fix her mistake.
Fee was a very unhappy woman. For one reason or another she had been
unhappy since the day she met Pakeha, a man she loved. Pakeha was Frank’s
father. Fee still loved Pakeha although she got married Paddy. Fee always looked
at her past, her memories with Pakeha. It still remained in her heart although Fee
had a new life and got children.
When Fee was delivered of twins, James and Patrick, they became
common property immediately they were born, for beyond giving them milk Fee
took no interest in them. Jims and Patsy, short names for James and Patsy, were
favorites with women up the house, maids and the widowed childless
It was made easy for Fee to forget her twin’s sons because they had three
“mothers” (p.146).
After Paddy died, Fee discovered how much she loved Paddy, but it was
too late, too late for Fee and too late for Paddy.
If you knew how I wanted the chance to take him in my arms, tell him I
loved him! Oh, God, I hope no other human being ever has to feel my
pain! (p.275)
Time brought Fee open her mind and her heart to Meggie, although she
just didn’t know how to show it (p.428). She gave Meggie advices based what
with happened herself.
“You’re going to pay, Meggie. Believe me, you’re going to pay. You
won’t get away with it any more than I dud. I lost frank in the worst way a
mother could; I can’t even see him and I long to…You wait! You’ll lose
Dane too” (p.489).
Fee used to think having a daughter wasn’t nearby as important as
having sons, but Fee was wrong. Fee enjoyed Meggie, in a way Fee can never
enjoy her sons.
Fee was the only one who knew that Dane was not Luke’s son, but
“I’m getting old at last, Meggie. And things don’t hurt as much
anymore. What a blessing old age can be...I feel better within myself
because of it. For the first time in years I feel like talking” (p.485).
b. Meghan Cleary’s character.
On December 8, 1915 Meghan Cleary, Meggie, had her fourth birthday.
She was the only daughter of the Cleary family; but her parents or even her
brothers did not spoil her. It was a forbidden for the Clearys to cry, even for
They took no notice of Meggie as she stood crying; it did not occur to
her to seek help, for in the Cleary family those who could not fight their
own battles got scant aid or sympathy, and that went for girls, too (p.5).
She lived in poverty as the impact, the society especially in School,
they underestimated her. Her teachers did not give her right to excuse or even
time for explaining her situation. The nuns always hated poor pupils. Meggie got
punishment and the punishment was physical abuse.
“What happened then?”
“Sister Ag caned her good and proper, and sent her home in disgrace”
Meggie was left-handed. Sister Agatha, her teacher, tied Meggie’s left
arm so she used her right hand to write. On Sister Agatha’s opinion, God’s
children were all right-handed; left-handed children were the spawn of the devil.
Meggie learnt that her teacher judged people by looking at wealth. Meggie was
worthless because her teachers did not respect her equal with her friends.
Meggie was loneliness. She had no friends of her own age to contribute to
her education. Her life was absolutely harnessed to the needs of the house.
Meggie lived in a family, which was son-oriented. All Meggie’s life she
would obey move with in the boundaries of her female fate, nursing or house
keeping. Meggie was stuck in her destiny. What she could do was just keep silent,
obey and never complain as her mother did. It was a straight distinction duty
between female and male in the house. The house was woman’s work. No male in
the house was to put his hand to a female task.
Agnes, the only name she knew elegant enough for such a peerless
creature…Meggie didn’t own a doll and had no idea little girls and dolls
belonged together. She played happily with the whistle and slingshots and
battered soldiers…it never occurred to her that Agnes was to play with
No one thought, even her mother, of Meggie as important. Because in
Fee’s mind, a daughter was a younger version of she who will do all the things
even mistakes Fee has done, cry the same tears.
After Paddy’s aunt, Mary Carson, asked Paddy to move in Australia, their
status raised. Paddy’s aunt was the richest woman in South Wales.
Meggie was described as sensitive; weeps and cries were her way to
express her depression and her feeling. She could not share her feeling with her
mother. They never had a nice conversation. Meggie knew that her mother only
could share with her beloved son, Frank. Meggie was never prepared by her
mother to be a young girl. How to dress up, talking about sex even talking about
menstruation were never discussed among Meggie and her mother.
Meggie was also a hard worker and carrying. Fee could not manage
without her. Meggie took care of her younger brother, Hall. Fee was too busy with
her emptiness. When Fee got born Hall, Meggie took her life for nursing Hall.
Meggie absolutely had no choice for her life. She simply filled the vacuum in the
Hall’s life and became “his mother “for the absence of Fee. It happened when Fee
had no notice to the family after Frank, her golden children, was gone. What
Meggie did to Hal was not any sacrifice, for she loved him dearly and found him a
helpless, willing target for all the love she was beginning to, want to lavish on
some human creature. Hall loved her and it caused Hal become possessive.
Meggie was the loving nucleus for Hal’s world. Meggie was just like a tiny
mother at her age. She would have regarded it as a duty rather than pure pleasure,
and been off to do something more alluring as fast as she could.
Meggie never wished to be a grown-up mother so desperately and
Meggie was never thinking that she was a woman like Fee. When Hal
was dying Fee couldn’t heal him because Fee was not his mother.
Meggie was confused and terrified; she held Hall’s body close and
trying to help Hal breathe. It never occurred to her that he might die,
even when Fee and Paddy sank to their knees by the bed and prayed, not
knowing what else to do (p.147).
When hall was dead, it was the first moment for Meggie seeing someone
dead. This was a burden she would have to carry until the end of her days. Meggie
lost someone who could see that Meggie was important, someone who had
Meggie’s ideas about the condition of death were vague; she wasn’t even
clear on what her status would be in that incomprehensible other world. Religion
to Meggie was a set of laws rather than a spiritual experience; it couldn’t help her
at all. Meggie obeyed the laws of the Church simply because not to do so meant
burning in Hell throughout eternity. There was no way she could come to term
with death; she laid night after night in a confused terror, trying to imagine if
death was perpetual night.
When the Clearys went to church on Sundays, Meggie had to stay home.
Paddy held that small children had no place in any house, and his rule held even
for a house of worship. Meggie had no basic of spiritual life since she was a child.
Meggie was an introvert person. She hid her distress to well. The old
lessons had been well learned, her self-control was phenomenal and her pride
formidable. No one must ever know what went on inside her. Meggie’s sorrow
she kept exclusively to herself; her pain had the unreasoning for other children,
and mysterious (p.160). She did not know how to speak up especially with men.
She was the only daughter in her family. It was too difficult for her because the
only chance to share with was her mother. From her mother also Meggie learnt
how to hide her distress well.
Meggie was out of her mother attention because her mother paid attention
to her sons only. They expected that Meggie should shoulder the entire task
herself. Meggie grieved for her mother too but by no means as whole-heartedly
as the men, for her loyalties were sorely tied. When Meggie have her own
children, she would think to herself, that she was never going to love of them
more than the rest (p.225).
On her deepest heart Meggie was loneliness, needed a home, family and
someone, who needed her and loved her. Someone who needed her loved her and
took her as a worthy. Meggie looked for a role mode that represented a figure of
her “father” and “mother”. And she found it in Father Ralph. Young Meggie felt
in love with a priest, Ralph, who devoted hid life in Australia.
“If you had not been a priest, Father, would you have married me?”
Meggie knew Ralph would never be willing to give up his God. It was
for that reason Meggie was determined at has the only part of Ralph. Meggie ever
would have, that was Ralph child, Dane. For Meggie Dane who was not and could
not ever is a full-hearted part of her.
“…Ralph I can’t have, his baby I can. I feel…oh, as if there’s a purpose to
my life after all!...I’m going to protect this child in every way I can, no
matter what cost to myself…(p.418).
By time, Meggie was described as a strength, beauty, passion and full of
love that made her a timeless heroine. Her strength was tested when in her
families there were many tragedies and hardships including fires, flood, drought
and devastating deaths of loved ones. Meggie was the only woman who took part
to cultivating the land. She worked as her brothers did. When there was a disaster
in Drogheda, Meggie took an important part to manage the land. Because her
brothers were sent to join the army, she could prove that she could take the
responsibility as a member of the family.
Meggie was also a self-perceived to suffer from an excess of
“masculinity”. Meggie saw portraits of “marriage” were marked by the same
radical pessimism. Meggie married Luke not because of love but Luke was
nothing more than a substitute, a man who just would give her children, children
who Meggie could not get from the man who she loved, Ralph. Meggie has never
loved anybody else, and while trying to forget her desire for Ralph that will never
go away, she found more trouble.
Oh, it wasn’t fair! How dare someone else have eyes and face like Father
Ralph! Not the way he looked at her: the mirth was something of his own
and he had no love burning for her there…to look into his eyes and not see
him! (p.289)
Meggie made a wrong reason to get married. She thought that Luke was
the one who could give her a baby. When she got pregnant Luke did not want it.
The morning sickness was all day. Meggie felt ill, helpless, unloved; even the
baby did not love her, did not want to be conceived on born. Meggie could feel it
inside her; the weakly tiny creature’s feeble protested against growing to being.
Disappointed and unhappy though she was, Meggie would not consciously do
anything to harm the baby.
She had grown used to hiding what she felt, to appearing always calm and
outwardly happy. Self-control was growing around her. She always thought,
would she end up like Fee, cut off from her feeling. Meggie had grown up enough
to realize there was more to getting babies than she used to think; some sort of
physical contact absolutely forbidden between any but a married couple. She
thought that her mother must have disgrace and humiliation through over Frank.
In book only the lowest, cheapest girls had babies outside marriage; yet Fee was
not cheap, could never have been cheap. If it happened to Meggie, Meggie
thought, she would want to die. With all her heart Meggie wished Fee could talk
to her about it, or that she herself had the courage to bring up the subject. Perhaps
in some small way she might have been able to help. But Fee was not the sort of
person one could approach, nor would Fee do the approaching. Meggie hoped
nothing like that ever happened to her (p294).
Meggie did not want to plod like a little automaton for the rest of her life,
she wafted to change and vitality and love.
Love, husband and babies. what was the use of hungering after a man she
could never have? Ralph did not want her, Ralph never would want her.
Ralph said he loved her, but not as a husband. Because he was married to
the church. There was a question in her mind about men. Did all men do
that; love some inanimate thing more than they could love a woman? The
difficult ones, perhaps, the complex ones with their seas of doubts and
objections, rationalities. But there had to be simpler men, men who could
surely love a woman before all else. Men like Luke, for instance (p.295).
Meggie was too ashamed to tell her family that her marriage was not going
well. Meggie could not face telling her family that Luke kept her without a penny
in her purse. The day she did tell them was the day she would leave Luke, never
to go back to him. Everything in her upbringing conspired to prevent her leaving
Luke; the sacredness of her marriage vows, the hope she might have a baby one
day, the position Luke occupied as husband and master of her destiny. Luke
admitted the money helped, but he married Meggie because he liked her not
because of love. On Luke’s opinion love is nothing. It was a figment of women’s
Meggie found herself fascinated with the process and the child, Justine. It
was a long time since she had been indifferent to Justine, and she yearned to
lavish love upon her daughter, hug her, kiss her, laugh with her (p.431).
Meggie was down when Dane asked her that he wanted to be a priest as
Ralph. Meggie stole Ralph from God, and she was paying with her son. Dane
adored Ralph as a perfect priest. Dane wanted to be like him, serve God.
“Do you know where you’re going? asked Meggie
“Saint Parick’s College, I suppose. At least until I find my feet. Perhaps
then I’ll espouse an order. I’d rather like to be a Jesuit, but I’m not quite
sure enough of that to go straight into the Society of Jesus.”
Meggie stared at the tawny grass bouncing up and down through the
insect-spattered windscreen (p.552)
Meggie began tough when finally she lost her son, Dane, was dead in
Crete when Dane was trying to help someone who was drowned (p.640). Meggie
was getting old at last. Time gave her priceless lessons, that she ha not only one
child but two children. Dane was dead but the most important that Justine was
Meggie could learn that what happened with Dane help her to fix her
relation to Justine. Meggie replied Justine’s letter and told her how proud she was.
They forgave each other. .Meggie thanked to God that she was still given time to
spend her time with her daughter. She was given time to fix her mistakes. Meggie
wanted to a place when Justine needed a friend to share her problem, a place
where Meggie could give her peace, love, and attention.
c. Justine Cleary
Justine could feel that she was rejected by her parents since she was
infancy. When her mother, Meggie, informed that she was pregnant, Luke was not
enthusiastic. It was a bitter pill for Meggie to shallow, but she did. Meggie was
disappointed and unhappy; Meggie would not do anything to harm the baby. Her
enthusiasm and her longing to have someone of her own to love withered in her.
The incubus child hung heavier. It took four weeks until Meggie could rid herself
of this intolerable burden, the ungrateful child. Meggie learnt to hate it. Because
Meggie wanted that Luke would look forward to the baby, but he did not. That
was why after Justine was getting born, it seemed that Justine did not want to be
hugged, kissed or made to laugh.
Her face had shrunk, and seemed all eyes; they were soft and
filled with a misty light, no hate but no love either. “I suppose I want
her…but while I was carrying her I couldn’t feel anything for her,
except that she didn’t want me. I don’t think Justine will ever be mine,
or Luke’s, or anyone’s. I think she’s always going to belong to herself”
The most dismaying thing as Justine’s dogged refusal to smile or laugh.
Every soul on Drogheda turned inside out performing antics to make her smile
without success. But Justine only got closer to her grand mother.
Justine was special; she walked and talked early, at nine months. When
Justine exactly was sixteen months old, Meggie’s son was born. Totally dry for
Justine, Meggie’s breast was full to overflowing. No need for bottles or tins this
time. Not that she as either noisy or defiant; simply that she was made of very
hard metal indeed.
She had none of Luke, her father, arresting beauty, or her mother’s
exquisiteness. Her figure was passable though not spectacular, trifle on the thin
side. Only the vivid red hair ever stood out. But on a stage she was as beautiful
as Helen of Troy or as ugly as a witch.
Justine was learning about responsibility since she was a child. Justine
set eyes on her brother, adored her baby brother.
“I can’t be here at the homestead to look after him myself,” she said,
“so it all depends on you, Justine. He’s your baby brother and you must
always watch out for him, makes sure he doesn’t get into danger or
trouble.”…”I like having Dane all to myself. So don’t worry. I won’t let
anything happen to him (p.451).”
Dane gave the changes in Justine’s life. Justine was four years old
before she saw anything funny, and that she ever did was probably due to Dane,
who had laughed from babyhood. Because he laughed, so did her. Meggie’s
children learned from each other all the time (p.451).
Justine became possessive. Justine seemed to frighten family who loved
Dane. Justine was jealous of the way they monopolized Dane’s company, for it
meant she had no one to play with (p.451). Justine didn’t seem to need a mother,
since she was convinced she was right about everything. As far as she was
concerned, Meggie was mostly someone who interfered with her pleasure in
Dane. Justine got on a lot better with her grandmother.
Justine’s heart was full of hatred. She did not feel love from her parents.
Her father did not want her; because he thought that having a baby meant
adding burden. Her present was not wanted by her parents. Her parents did not
give her role model of the meaning of family. Meggie was supposed to give her
protection, caring, giving love and attention. Meggie needed the support from
whom she can gain such a physical and emotional sustenance. What Meggie
needed should be fulfilled by her husband. But she did not get it. Justine was
undesirable. It influenced how Justine saw her parents.
Justine was a strong, self-willed, determined young woman struggling
with knowing she was not as treasured as her brother Dane (p.542). No one could
have called her a pretty child, but no one ever forgot her, not merely on account of
eyes but also because she had remarkable strength of character; astringent,
forthright and uncompromisingly intelligent.
That was so Justine. She liked to act for herself and she would not be told
what to do. Justine felt that she was not like her mother, Meggie. It was a simple
biological bond. She was not sure if they liked each other. Justine had always
wanted Meggie to talk to her the way she talked to Dane, and wanted to get along
with Meggie the way Dane did. But either there was something lacking in
Meggie, or something lacking in Justine (p.542). Justine knew that her mother
loved Dane more than Meggie loved her. Justine was ignored by her own mother.
Dane was the central of Meggie life. Dane was as if Meggie’s breathe. Dane was
so meaningful than the rest of Meggie’s life. What Justine could do to satisfy her
mother was to take care of Dane, as if Dane was her own son. Justine was so
careful to look after Dane. Nothing could happen to Dane without her permission.
Justine was her innate godlessness. Justine at eight cared as little what
anyone thought of her as he had a baby. Only on person was very close to her;
Dane. She still adored him, and still regarded him as her own property, which had
led to many a tussle of wills between her and her mother. It had been a rude shock
to Justine when Meggie hung up her saddle and got back to being a mother. For
one thing, Justine did not seem to need a mother, since she was convinced she was
right about everything. Nor was she the sort of little girl who required a
confidante or warm approval. As far as she was concerned, Meggie was mostly
someone who interfered with her pleasure in Dane. She got on a lot better with her
grandmother, who was just the sort of person Justine heartily approved; she kept
her distance and assumed one had a little sense.
Justine was blamed herself when she found that Dane was dead. She
thought that it was her responsibility to take care of Dane.
“…He was on holiday, mum, he asked me to go with him and I
didn’t, I wanted to be with Rain. If I’d only been with him! If I had, it
mightn’t have happened...” (p.640)
Justine was feeling guilty of her mother. She just was not able to nerve
herself to confront her mother; to do so mean the whole sorry (p.660). She thought
that if she accompanied Dane, the accident would not happen. Especially the
accident happened when Justine refused Dane’s invitation, and she preferred to go
with Rainer. Justine thought that her mother would be mad because Justine could
not take care of Dane.
Justine was a young woman who knew exactly what she wanted to do.
Justine wanted to be an actress because it was a place for her where she could
scream, yell. Justine felt that along this time she was not allowed to do any of
screaming or yelling. Justine wanted to have a place where she could express
her emotion (p.529). Justine kept her words to be an actress although her mother
forbid her. Justine kept move on, and tried to convince her mother that she had
the ability.
Her friend, Arthur, first noticed her during a teaching period, when she
was required to recite a passage from Comrade’s Lord Jim using various
accents. Justine was extraordinary; he could feel the excitement in Albert Jones
and finally understood why Albert devoted so much time to her. She gave
character to every word she said. And there was the voice, a wonderful natural
endowment for any actress, deep, hussy and penetrating (p.538).
Her life offended the stage. To Justine, acting was first and foremost
intellect and only after that, emotion. The one liberated the other, and polished
Meggie ever said Justine was a monster. When Justine met Rainer, said
monster too. But Justine was not sure what either Rainer meant by monster.
Rainer tried to define the term of monster. It meant someone who terrified others;
rolled over the top of people; felt so strong only God can defeat; had no scruples
and few morals.
“She has no right to suffer for me! Let her suffer for herself if she must,
but not for me. Never for me (p.664).
Justine had terrified of committing herself to the kind of love marriage
would entail. One of the reasons was Justine saw her grandmother’s married and
her parent’s married that did not go well. Since Dane’s dead, Justine was run
away from herself. She could not accept Rain’s love.
By the time, Meggie was mature. Meggie saw that Justine was special. She
did get angry or blame Justine for the death of Dane. Meggie asked her to relax,
calm down when Justine informed that Dane was dead. Meggie said that was
nobody’s fault. When Justine was informed that Dane was dead, what she thought
was her mother. Meggie did not even have the lovely last sight of Dane’s face in
Rome. What in Meggie’s mind that she had to make was the payment. Meggie
stole Ralph from God and she had to pay back with her son. Dane was free from
anybody. Meggie said that she thanked to God that she still had Justine, that she
did not lose both her children. With her heart Meggie tried to pour wrath and
comfort across the miles to her devastated daughter in London. Justine realized
that she needed her mother’s love, someone who gave her shoulder when she
cried on.
From this tragedy both Meggie and Justine found that they had to stand up
together. Meggie realized that she made mistakes toward Justine and Justine felt
sorry also.
Finally, she could accept Rain after she fix her relation with her mother.
Justine tried to forget her past and she found someone who could heal her wound.
Justine wrote a letter to Meggie and told about her activity, her plan to go home
for good and her plan to get married with Rain.
2. The possible messages seen from the major characters description
In the last part of the problem formulation, I intend to reveal some possible
messages through the main characters descriptions.
Looking back to the meaning of message, it is defined as what is conveyed
in speech or writing from one person to one or more other people (Richards, Platt,
and Weber, 1985:176). It means that through the story the author seems to
communicate a moral lesson to the readers, and it depends on the way the author
delivers the message, in direct or in indirect for in this study, the message is
delivered in indirect form. The author does not directly give her advice, she
expresses the message implicitly. Through the story, the readers have a chance to
interpret the message by themselves so that it is needed for the readers to
understand the story well. The reader that s the writer herself will try to interpret
the message inside.
The first message that I can take after learning the main character is that
each generation is doomed to repeat the missteps and failures of the previous
generation. Lidz, states that mother is the primary and major nurturing figure to
the child, particularly the small child. She is an expert in child-rearing techniques
(1968:56). In giving love and attention to the children, the mother also needs the
support from whom she can gain such a physical and emotional sustenance. What
a mother needs can be fulfilled by her husband. Mother’s behavior in conducting
her role affects the children so much.
In early childhood, the child needs to believe that his parents can answer
all his questions. Meggie had no change to have a nice conversation with her
parents. Because her parents never paid attention and realized that she was there,
belonged to the family. Paddy was son-oriented. He forgot that he had a daughter.
Meggie needed someone to share with. But she did not have it. She felt that no
one loved her. It happened when Meggie got her first period. She thought that she
was dying, got cancer, a lot of blood run out of her bottom (p.163). Ralph was
completely lost too because her mother should have told Meggie years ago. It
happened because Meggie learnt from her mother. Meggie hid distress too well.
No one must ever know what went on inside Meggie.
Children need her parents’ example and teaching. Meggie learnt that Fee
as wife left the disciplining of the children to husband; and wife did whatever
husband commanded without comment or complaint (p.12). Meggie felt the same
when she got married. Her husband married her because of money. She did not
get any penny in her pocket. She worked as a maid to fulfill her needed because
her husband never gave her money. Meggie did what her husband said without
Meggie also learnt that displays of affection between husband and wife
were as something suitable only for bedroom (p.131). Love was something to
secret to talk about. Love did not need to be express. So the Clearys seemed cool,
no passion because they were used to hide it, keep it.
It happened with Meggie’s family too. She became no desire, no passion
with her husband even to her daughter. Meggie did not learn to overcome her past.
She learnt well what exactly family meant. There was a place where was no
communication, sharing. And Meggie did the same thing with her family.
Every member of Cleary knew that it was Frank who laid closest to Fee’s
heart, Frank who loomed as the star in Fee’s limited heaven, he was the only one
who seemed to enjoy sitting talking to Fee. And Fee loved Frank more than the
rest of family (p.59). Even Paddy knew it, he just kept silent. He did not give any
advises that Fee did only have one son, but there were other children who needed
her attention.
Although Meggie said that she would never pay attention to only one of
her children but she did it. Both Fee and Meggie only loved the sons from men
they loved. Meggie loved Dane more than Meggie loved Justine. Meggie could
not get enough closer to Justine. It seemed that Justine did not want to be hugged,
kissed or made to laugh (p.431). Meggie did not adore Justine that she felt less for
Justine than she had for any of her mother’s younger babies. The strange thing
was that Justine did not seem to want to be picked up or crooned over; she quieted
much faster if she was left alone (p.380). It happened because Justine knew that
she was rejected since she was not getting born. Justine felt that nobody even her
parents needed her present.
When Meggie was pregnant, Luke did not want it. Luke said that as far as
he was concerned, becoming a father simply meant he would have too non
working mouths to feed (p.366). Meggie got trouble because the baby was not
sitting well whether because of the heat or her unhappiness Meggie did not know.
The morning sickness was all day. Meggie felt ill, helpless, unloved; even the
baby did not love her, did not want to be conceived on born. Meggie could feel it
inside her, the weakly tiny creature’s feeble protested against growing to being.
Disappointed and unhappy though she was, Meggie would not consciously do
anything to harm the baby.
It was different when Meggie got pregnant Dane. The pain was minimal,
the ordeal so quickly over it might hardly have been; in spite of the stitches she
had to have because his entry into the world had been so precipitate, Meggie felt
wonderful (p.432).
Another repetition mistakes is about marriage. Fee was from a high social
status. Fee had disgraced her family; she was not married and she had a child.
Fee’s father offered 500 pounds if he married Fee and guarantees to take her out
of the South Island. For the first time, Paddy and Fee married with no love. Paddy
was a man who could accept a woman who got pregnant with other man. Paddy
have always known that Fee loved her son, Frank, more than the rest of family.
Fee must have loved Frank’s father. But Paddy loved her so much even she
ignored him (p.131).
It happened to Meggie also. Meggie and Luke had married for all wrong
reasons; Luke for Meggie’s money, Meggie as an escape from Ralph. Ralph was
pride in being a priest. Luke admitted the money, but he married Meggie because
he liked her not because of love. Through marriage, the sacredness of Meggie’s
marriage vows, the hope she might have a baby one day. The position Luke
occupied as husband and masters her destiny. Luke was nothing more than a
substitute, a man who would give her children (p.135). Another reason was that
Luke was look like Ralph (p.289). Justine felt for almost her ages, that to be
convinced that there was no love.
Another repetition was both Fee and Meggie lost their golden son. Meggie
stole Ralph from God, and she was paying with her son. Meggie believed that
what happened, after Dane’s dead, must be for the best. It was different with Fee.
Although Frank came back to Drogheda, but it was completely not the same. The
most Fee could do for Frank was to make him as happy as possible, and surely the
way to do that was to accept the now Frank as always Frank. Gradually the Cleary
men grew used to having frank back in the family, began to understand that the
threat Frank used to represent to their own welfare was quite empty. Nothing
would ever change that Fee felt for Frank, it did not matter whether Frank was in
jail or on Drogheda, Fee would still feel it. The important thing was that to have
him on Drogheda made Fee happy. For Fee it was not a joy to have Frank home
again yet; seeing him everyday was simply a different kind of sorrow from not
being able to see him at all, the terrible grief of having to witness a ruined life, a
ruined man. Who was her most beloved son, and must have endured agonies
beyond her imagination (p.522).
The second message was that all sadness will pass, and one day something
beautiful will come from that pain. This story was full of tears. Tragedy, flood,
fire, death were something the Clearys had to be faced. It began when Paddy
married Fee. It was completely wrong excuse for a couple get married with no
love. But Paddy was so patient to love Fee although he knew that Fee did not love
her. They were from different social status. Paddy taught Fee how to be a good
house wife. He taught her how to cook, iron clothes and wash the dishes. Paddy
worked hard to fulfill what Fee needed. He never complained although he was so
tired with his work. It was not a short time to open Fee’s heart. It happened after
Paddy was dead because of fire. Fee felt empty when Paddy was not beside her
again. It seemed too late for Fee or Paddy. But it was a starting point for Fee to fix
what she had done. Fee saw Meggie as an ally; she became a place that Meggie
could run away. Fee started to open a nice conversation with Meggie. It was
priceless for both Fee and Meggie. Because when they were together, they could
face problems even it was harder.
The death of Dane was tragedy for this family. It was a deep sorrow for
Meggie. Dane was the central life of Meggie. Dane was the only thing she could
have from Ralph. Meggie realized that she could not have Ralph, she could not
steal Ralph from God. Meggie kept it as a secret even she did not tell Dane who
was his blood father. Ralph also did not know it. When Dane was dead, thus
secret was open. Meggie must ask Ralph help to bring back Dane’s body. First
Ralph did not want to help her because Dane’s body was already buried. But
when Meggie told the truth that Dane was Ralph’s son, Ralph tried to bring back
Dane’s body to Drogheda. Ralph felt guilty because he could not protect his own
Dane’s death gave a deep sorrow for Justine. Meggie knew that Dane was
Justine’s beloved brother. Justine loved Dane more than Justine loved her mother.
Justine always kept an eye on Dane in every minute. She was responsible with her
duty to take care of her brother. If she could replace, she would die to replace
Meggie learnt how to be a good mother by time. When Justine
informed her about Dane’s death, she was not getting mad. She realized that what
she stole from God, she had to pay back. She did want to lose both of children.
Dane was dead but Justine was alive. Meggie thanked to God that she was still
given time to spend her time with her daughter. She was given time to fix her
mistakes. Meggie wanted to a place when Justine needed a friend to share her
problem, a place where Meggie could give her peace, love, and attention.
Justine could feel the changes of Meggie. Justine was happy that finally
she could feel love of a mother. Something that was impossible she could feel
came get closer to her life. When Justine could heal the pain, Rain came to
support her, help her to wrap her wound. It was love that brought back this family.
It was full of thankful, joy and relief.
From the analysis, I can conclude that three major characters here help us
in revealing the message in Colleen McCollugh’s The Thorn Birds. By learning
the characters, the reader can learn numerous moral values which are regarded the
message of this work. McCullough is a genius for combining three generations of
the Clearys into one novel.
The previous analysis has already explained about three major characters
and the possible messages. The badness or goodness of the children’s character
development depends on the parents’ role that can be seen from their behavior. If
they can do their roles in a balance portion, the children will develop as well as
they wish. On the contrary, if they cannot do their roles properly, the children
cannot develop normally.
It is true if we say that not only parents who become the central factor that
influence children’s character development. Nevertheless, parents are the first
things a child got contact with. Automatically, he gets his first lesson from his
parents. So that, it can be said that everything happens with children’s character
development has a correlation with the parents’ contribution.
For some reasons what happened to Fee, Meggie and Justine were
influenced by their parents. Fee’s father asked her to leave her house because she
got pregnant and she did not have a husband yet. Fee humiliated her parents’
pride. Her father looked for a man who would marry her.
It was obvious that they got married because they had no choice. Love was
an important aspect in a marriage. It might lead to destruction if the couple did not
have it.
Meggie did the same mistake too. Meggie got married for a wrong reason.
Luke, her husband, married Meggie for her money; Meggie was an escape from
Ralph. Luke was the only man whose face was looked like Ralph, and was the
only one who could possibly give her a baby. Something that Ralph could not
give it to Meggie. But it was nothing when Meggie got pregnant and Luke did not
give attentions or even said that Luke did not want it. Meggie felt ill, helpless,
unloved; even the baby did not love her, did not want to be conceived on born.
The baby could felt it that her mother rejected her presence. The baby also
rejected to be born, because she knew it that her parents did not want her.
The dead of Dane opened Meggie’s heart that she was given a chance to
take care of her daughter, Justine. Dane was dead but Justine was still alive.
Meggie was given a time for rebuilding her relation, her communication with
The second message was that all sadness will pass, and one day something
beautiful will come from that pain. This story was full of tears. Tragedy, flood,
fire, death were something the Clearys had to be faced. They had faced so many
tragedies and it gave them best experiences. Fee, Maggie and Justine learnt that
they could face the hardest time when they started to communicate with each
other. They could take the values of the hardest time. It was love that brought
back this family. It was full of thankful, joy and relief.
The mothers and daughters shared similar characteristics. The influence of
mother-daughter relationship in characterization was reflected in the presence of
the conflict, the opposite of past lives, opinions, life style, thoughts and manners,
between the mother and the daughter. The mother representing the older
generation, is opposed with the daughter, representing the younger generation.
These three generations of the Clearys gave moral message. It was never
too late to learn, to love because love could heal the pain, could wrap the wound.