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Neighbours || Tim Winton || Literature || Compulsory English Grade 12



Tom Winton


About the Author:

Timothy John Winton was born on 4 August 1960 in Western Australia,

He is known as a living treasure of Australia,

Adult and Children's novelist,

His writings are based on everyday life experiences and beautiful country landscapes,

Won the Australian Literary Aware in 1982,

His novels are:

That Eye, the Sky (1986)

Dirt Music (2001)

Breathe (2008)

Luckie Leonard, Human Torpedo (1990)

The Bugalugs Bum Thief (1991)

The Deep (1998)


About the Story:

'Neighbours' is taken from the book "Migrants of Australia" which was edited by Harwood Lawler,

This is a story about a newly married young couple, who have recently migrated into a multicultural and multilingual suburb neighbourhood,

It covers four seasons of everyday activities of the young couple,

This story also show that how people from different countries and languages can live together bestowing love and compassion,

Characters in the story are role model for everyone,

About the social enrichments in Australian society specially of migrants

People have intolerance, indifference, prejudices and discrimination because of ignorance,



1. The young man: a writer who has recently migrated in a suburb neighbourhood with his wife and a dog, he is a writer and currently writing a book on the Development of the Twentieth Century Novel. Initially he is indifferent to the neighbours, but later begins a healthy relationship with them,


2. The young woman: a wife to the young man, she works in a hospital, works in her kitchen garden, she gives birth to a baby boy


3. A Macedonian Family: The family has migrated in Australia from a country Macedonia, in southern Europe; they shout and talk aloud, helpful to the new couple, and they give advices on kitchen gardening,


4. A Polish Widower:  He is an old widower from Poland. He lives right to the new couple, and all the time we find him hammering nails on woods. He is also helpful to the new couple. He helps them to rebuild the collapsed hen house, and offers firewood.



The newly married couple migrates into a new neighborhood in Australia. The new place is filled with European migrants- people from all over Europe like France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland etc. They have migrated in Australia because of war, depression, political reason, and their love to Australia. They have different life styles and different cultures and languages. A Macedonian family lives lives left to them and a Polish old widower lives right to them.


They make a small house like an elegant cottage with high ceiling. Through the window of his study room, he sees out rooftops, used car yards, the Moreton Bay and a park where they walk their dog which the neighbors are scared of. The new couple feels disgusting about the people living around because they have come from different countries. They feel disturbed by the behaviors of their neighbours as the Macedonian family talks in a loud voice, their spitting, and washings and tap as well the old polish widower is instantly hammering nails. The couple feels uncomfortable in a new place for months because the neighbours tease at their behaviors, the next door boy urinating in the street, his shaved head and cobalt eyes scare them.


In autumn season, they couple clears their backyard to convert it into a kitchen garden. They plants leeks, onions, cabbages, Brussels sprout and broad beans. The neighbors come across them and advice them on spacing, hilling and covering the seedlings. The young man doesn't like such advice from unknown people. The neighborhood woman gives the young woman garlic cloves to plant. After turning backyard into a kitchen garden, the couple makes a hen house. But not long after the hen house falls down. The Polish widower, though he is uninvited, helps to rebuild the house.


In winter, the couple smiles back to the neighbours because of their friendly relationship. They started exchanging goods to each other. Besides writing, the man helps her wife and he listens to her stories about eccentric patients. They feel proud of having such neighbours. They keep duck and muscovies.

In the spring, the Macedonian family teaches them on butchering, plucking and dressing. The couple with neighbours sits around and shares stories. Then story shifts to pregnancy of the young woman. She takes maternal leave from the hospital. The Polish widower starts working with woods which irritates the couple. She starts vomiting, and has allergy. The whole neighborhoods know about the pregnancy of the young woman. Different people give different gifts to the couple.

In summer, Italian women begin to offer names for the baby. Greek women predict about baby boy. The next door woman knits a suit for the baby. The woman feels flattered, claustrophobic, grateful and peeved. By late summer, the man is about to complain on the noise made by the old widower. But the man comes with a barrowful of woods scraps for the fire.

The man is restless during the time of labor pain of his wife. He runs here and there to manage things. The midwife comes and helps the young woman. She can't bear the labor pain. The midwife sings in a sentimental manner and the young man rubs his wife's back. After so much pain she gives birth to a baby boy. When the young man sees the Macedonian family cheering at child birth, he weeps in happiness.

Key points:

·        Characters are not given proper names to present them as role model for anybody,

·        The couple behave strangely in the beginning being busy in their works and their neighbours criticize them,

·        However, the neighbours offer help to them as a result the couple feel proud of having such helping neighbours.

·        Everybody is benevolent and able to help. Everybody in the area is glad for the unexperienced parents and wishes them well after the introduction of their child. For the youthful person, the birth is a shock, and eventually, he discovers that "the fiction of the 20th century had not set him up for this.

·        The story describes how immigrants to Australia might be viewed as a source of cultural advantage. In view of their unique inclination of having a place, the couple can see that racism, unfairness, and parting are totally established in an absence of information.


The main message of the story “Neighbours”

The story illustrates how immigrants may make a positive contribution to Australia's social structure. Because of their strong feeling of belonging, the couple is able to see that intolerance, prejudice, and discrimination are all the result of a lack of information. The story shows how many people from many different countries may live peacefully together despite having quite different lives. To conclude, we readers have different experiences with Tim Winton's "Neighbours" depending on how we understand and interact with the text. You may make a difference by contributing to a varied reading experience in a variety of ways. The significance of the characters in the book, their cultural roots, our own lives, morality, and values, and the importance of the text's characters are all instances of this.

Neighbours: Glossary

Macedonian (adj.): from Macedonia, south-eastern Europe

Moreton Bay (n.): a bay located on the eastern coast of Australia

moulting (adj.): molting, hair growing.

grappa (n.): a kind of alcoholic beverage, a fragrant grape-based Italian brandy

eccentric (adj.): unconventional and strange

muscovy (n.): a kind of large duck of South American origin

claustrophobic (adj.): afraid of living in confined places

liverwurst (n.): meat sausage also known as liver sausage

croon (v.): hum or sing in a low soft voice

vernix (n.): a greasy deposit covering the skin of a baby at birth





Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. Describe how was the young couple’s house looked like.

= The new couple build a small house in their newly migrated place. The house was small but it had high ceillings and paned window. The house was comfortable to stay however it was not sophisticated and expensive.


b. How did the young couple recognize their neighbours in the beginning of their arrival?

Ans:- In the beginning of their settling in the new place, the couple found their neighbours uncivilized specially a Macedonian family and a Polish widower. Their daily activities such as watering, washing clothes, the way of talking, spitting irritated the couple. They looked dirty, uneducated and manner less. They criticized the couple and provided unnecessary suggestions. The kids were dirty, manner less and irritating.


c. How did the neighbours assist the young couple in the kitchen garden?

Ans:-  The first thing the could made after their house was a kitchen garden. While there were making their kitchen garden, their neighbours suggested them about spacing, hilling and mulching. Even the big woman with black eyes and butcher’s arms gave the wife of the young man a bagful garlic cloves to plant.


d. Why were the people in the neighborhood shocked at the role of the young man and his wife in their family?

Ans:- The new couple was totally different in the locality. The young man was a writer and he stayed at his own home writing and his wife had a job in a hospital. He was staying at home doing household works at leisure time and his wife went out for working. This act made the neighbours shocked.


e. How did the neighbours respond when they learn about the woman’s pregnancy?

Ans:- As soon as the neighbours found that the woman was pregnant, they took care of the pregnant woman. They were very much attentive to the woman and didn’t hesitate to offer any kind of help. They started offering gifts, and best wishes. One woman predicted the new baby would be a boy, another knitted the baby suit, some suggested names. The Polish widower brought a barrowful wood scraps.

f. Why did the young man begin to cry at the end of the story?

Ans:- In the beginning, the young man felt uneasy for having uncivilized neighbours. Gradually, he started receiving helps from his neighbours such as advice on kitchen gardening and repairing a henhouse. The actual help he got when his wife was pregnant. He really felt sorry for his resentments to his neighbours. Despite his unconcern, the neighbours showed lots of love and care for which he could not hide his emotion so he cried at the end of the story.



g. Why did the author not characterize the persons in the story with proper names?

Ans:- The Autor didn’t characterize the persons in the story with proper names because he wanted to show his characters as role models for everybody. The author wants to impart us a message that we become unfamiliar with new neighbours because of lack of proper information. Every new comer feels the same the young couple feel in their newly migrated places. But we need the help of neighbours in need indeed. No matter what identity and behavior our neighbours have, the tie of neighborhood is never broken. No matter what religious background, what culture, what language the neighbours have, they help us when we are in critical condition. This is story is an example of the linguistic and cultural barriers do not create any obstacle in human relationship.


 Reference to the context

a. The story depicts that linguistic and cultural barrier do not create any obstacle in human relationship. Explain with some examples from this story where the neighbours have transcended such barriers.

Ans:-  In the very beginning the couple doesn’t feel that they will able to stay any longer in the new place. The street is full of European migrants. In one a Macedonian family lives and in another side a Polish widower lives. Other people are from different countries. People are from different linguistic and cultural background. They have difficulty in conversation. Despite this reality, the young couple receive lots of cares, suggestions, help. They teach them lots of things in the course of living. A Macedonian family teach them in kitchen garden, a Polish widower repairs their henhouse. The more care, attention and help they get when the young woman becomes pregnant. They provide proper care during her pregnancy and becomes extremely happy when she gives birth to a baby. This shows that human relation crosses linguistic and cultural barriers.

b. The last sentence of the story says “The twentieth-century novel had not prepared him for this.” In your view, what differences did the young man find between twentieth-century novels and human relations?


Ans:-  The story is about a newly married young couple, who has recently migrated to Australia. The main characters, though his name is not mentioned, is a writer by profession. He writes novels on varieties of topics. Currently, he has been writing a novel having 20th century elements. Fragmented structure, fragmented perspective, multi culturalism, identity crisis, selfishness, money mindedness, and so on. The writer is writing this novel based on these themes. He thinks that immigrants are fragmented, selfish, self-centered etc. He himself showed the same behavior when he migrated to this new place. He thought that people living in his area were uncivilized, manner less, and uneducated. The neighbours were annoying and dirty. But gradually he found the migrant community quite different from his perspective. They offered the couple lot of things. The help the neighbours provided during the time of pregnancy of his wife was praiseworthy. Because of biasedness, prejudice, partiality made him wrong to understand true humanity. His knowledge on 20th century was quite immature and he was yet not able to write novel on that topic. His researches and knowledge are still incomplete. He is still unable to understand true human relations.


c. A Nepali proverb says “Neighbors are the companions for wedding procession as well as for the funeral procession.” Does this proverb apply in the story? Justify.


Ans:-  When we are talking about our neighbours, we never cease to quote this proverb, “Neighbours are the companion for wedding procession as well as for the funeral procession.” to idealize the actual role of neighbours. Our neighbours are our power and identity. No matter sometimes we quarrel with our neighbours, but most of time we need help our neighbours. This proverb gives emphasis on need of social harmony, cooperation, and human relation in our society. Though this is a Nepali proverb it is applied universally. Neighbours are needed in very occasions and difficult situations. Celebrations like wedding, child birth and death ritual need support of neighbours. This proverb is applied in this story “Neighbours”. The newly married couple receive utmost care and support when the young man’s wife is pregnant. They get support from their neighbours from minor works to caring at pregnancy.

d. The author has dealt with an issue of multiculturalism in the story. Why do you think multiculturalism has become a major issue in the present world?

Ans:- Multiculturalism is the practice of giving equal attention people from different cultural background living in a particular setting. In such a situation, the location is a shelter home of different cultures, languages, lifestyles without any interferences. One person can’t assimilate another person’s culture because of prevailing language barrier and sense of superiority. Same situation is dealt in this story. The story is set in a place where people from different countries have been migrated to. There is a lack of communication between the newly migrated couple and the existing migrants. In the beginning the couple doesn’t like to establish a health relation to their neighbours because of predominated concept about the people from different social backgrounds. Because of different reasons people have to migrate from home land to different countries and they have to acclimate the new environment. It is difficult to adjust the environment, if the migrant has prejudice and biasness to other people.



Reference beyond the text

a. Write an essay on Celebration of Childbirth in my Community.

Ans:- Nepal is also a multicultural country. People from different cultural, ethnic, religious and language background live here. So, like other rituals, childbirth ritual differs place to place, culture to culture. I belong to Hindu community and childbirth in my community is celebrated according to the norms and value of Hindu religion. The actual child birth celebration takes on the ninth day of the birth. This especial day is called “Nwaran” in our term. It is performed by a family priest or a brahmin. This is a happy moment celebrating a grad welcome of a new born baby. This child is given a proper name by our priest.  Nwaran is celebrated on the 9th day from the day of birth. This ceremony is specially celebrated to give a birth name to the new child according to their lunar horoscope. A priest is invited at home to perform such ritual. The family members, neighbours, relatives attend this ceremony.

b. Do the people in your community respond with similar reactions upon the pregnancy and childbirth as depicted in the story? Give a couple of examples.

Ans:- People in our culture are extremely cooperative and responsive. They are not only able to respond to some of their neighbors' good moments, but they are also able to assist all members of the community. This has aided in the strengthening of relationships. In our culture, pregnancy and labor are both well-recognized occurrences. During this rite to memorialize the event, every member of the family, as well as the neighbors, takes part. During pregnancy and delivery, women are treated with far more respect than men. She is given the attention and affection she so richly deserves. Every family member sends their best wishes to a pregnant woman. People present the family and mother various foods and clothes items at birthing ceremonies, and they wish for the mother's and infant's well health. That is why I greatly enjoy my civilization. Her friends and relatives provide her with a lot of health-related information. Her family members are in care of her as he or she is brought into the world. When a kid is born, it is a big deal. The baby's mother is warmly embraced by the whole family.



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