By Tim Winton


What is insinuated?

  • 'Lantern Stalk' insinuates there is some kind of chase and follow occurring as if there is an eerie tone, an unwanted presence, or a desire for safety.
  • 'Lantern Stalk' directs the reader at the fact there is a source of guidance and a goal, or some harbour of safety. A guiding light, maybe a personal family/religious connotation.


A schoolboy nicknamed 'Egg' makes clear his mother and father (a minister of religion) do not get along. And they never have. He is sent on a militaristic style boys game, an attempt of 'making a man' of Egg by his mother in school cadets, into the night, and his dreams of travelling up stairs and seeing padlocked doors only to reach the top and know there is empty space is revealed. On his 'Lantern Stalk' to find a Lantern on top of the hill against his friends, he stumbles across and old country family in a house, who accepts him and trusts him to hold their baby, dance with him, and they give him everything he had never had - a human connection. However, he has become a godfather to this baby, as he participated in a christening and breaking of bread and wine. Because of this, he can go out into the Lantern Stalk less afraid, and more satisfied.


- He had multiple parental issues, and his father wasn't present in terms of his accident.

- He may not have been traditionally religious, but found shelter and harbour in religion (representative of the family).

- He just wanted some loving (parents being stressed and taking themselves out of his life to care for each other).


The Army Cadets - Wanting to 'make a man' out of Egg, makes the mother seem to be wanting to fill this role by forcing her son into 'masculine' activity.

The Lantern - A symbol of the relationship with his father, maybe human connection and wanting to find one that he can have for himself.

The family - A satisfaction and release through others, a safety in religion, a regaining of faith in humanity. People who take an extra step.

Egg's Dream- He is unable to process his emotions himself, which entails the staircase being his constant journey and longing for a sense of belonging, always meeting dead ends, but knowing personally he'd never find it, possibly a representation of the vast space that is the night? He lost the lantern for a little while. But after the family. He could find it again.


- Relationships/Belonging

- Isolation/Loneliness

- Human faith/Religious faith


The broken bond his parents have, and the literally disconnect he feels from reality to the family he's never met that he wasn't a part of, but felt a part of, and then the brokenness of his heart (isolation) all relate to this 'division of parts'. Not only this, but Egg is constantly striving for something he cannot see visually, a natural disconnect. However, the lantern being a symbol of these shows the breakage between the barriers and 'division'.


This is a whimsical story that takes a few reads. However, the plot line is so surreal that it feels like you're reading a fantasy, and you probably could get stuck in the tiny world for a little while if you read just along the shallow. But, this can be hard to follow as Winton's language tends to be so sequential that the fantasy and almost lack of reality in this story is hard to read in a flowing manner. It is all very structured, which is a stark contrast to the story itself, being about Egg's adventure meeting new people he's never met, and the dark hold of the night so on. Overall, I enjoyed this story because it was so different, but could definitely see why that may not be for the majority.

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