A Bridge to Wiseman’s COve





James Moloney has written a precious unforgettable yarn in his book, A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove. The book deals with many conflicts that the characters encounter especially Carl Matt.


Carl Matt is a 15-year-old neglected boy who was forced to face a life that he didn’t deserve. He and his brother, Harley, who is only ten, were left by their family; their mom, Kerry and sister, Sarah. Since then, he was supposed to deal with self-image, peer pressure, money-crazed aunt, psychological needs and neglected condition, all by himself.


Moreover, his sensitive feeling was still loaded with more bitter reality that his family has. The surname, Matt has a ‘well-known’ notoriety. Because of this reputation, the Matt family deserted the other. For example in the beginning of the novel where is said that Kerry abandoned her three children, time and again. The book says “Kerry’s escape become more frequent once Sarah started working at the travel agency. The kids invented a name. ‘Mum’s holiday.’”[1] Her action influenced Sarah, the older sister. Instead of keeping an eye on her brothers, she left the boys and went away. “I’m going overseas. Next month, while you’re on holiday. I’ve had it planned since before Mum went away.”[2]


Since being left by running-away-from-responsibility mom and sister, Carl and Harley lived with their loveless aunt and didn’t gain enough care and love. She conspicuously had no idea how to be a heedful person which Carl and Harley wanted. At one time, Aunt Beryl blew Carl’s confidence by saying, “Who’s going to love you if your mother doesn’t.”[3]


Beryl, who is their closest family they have, was a money-mad. As long as she received the social security money, she would let them lived along with her. “It’s the social security money. She still wants Mum’s cheque every two weeks.”[4] If they didn’t, doubtlessly there’s no reason they can stay.


Besides, Beryl treated Harley boorishly like a dog. She chained him up, wishing he didn’t cause any trouble. “At one end, it was looped through the mullion in the window frame and padlock on itself. At the other, it met a pair of handcuffs, one bracelet which was clamped around Harley’s ankle.”[5] This treatment affected Harley’s psychological growth. He began to shoplift, graffiti walls, and get into fight at school. If Beryl cared for him and talked to Harley affectionately about his problems, he would not be such a rebel. He would act better, because it is the best way to prevent naughty boy act badly. Because of her rough treatment, Carl reprimanded Beryl, “He shouted for the whole bar, for the whole town, to hear, a wild ferocious roar.”[6] This showed us that Carl had started to yell his mind out.


Unlike Beryl, when Joy came into Harley and Carl’s lives, instead of torturing them, she treated them both as though they were her own sons. It made Harley became obedient and acted much pleaser. “Oh, they both calmed down. Mum started explaining why she was so angry and how much she cared about him. Then she hugged him and he started to cry.”[7] This made them feel stacks of love and they realised that their torment of all this time have come to an end.


Due to his ‘swelling’ stomach, Carl was self conscious about his body. He always tried to hide it. Furthermore, he had no confident talking with girls. “He becomes so used to the image in the mirror, of a stomach bulging through the line of buttons. That he habitually held his hands over his middle as camouflage.”[8] But since he was helped by Joy and Justine, he got back his confidence. Even, he dared opposing Nathan and spoke up his anger. “Bruce cheats people. Gets there too late to help them.”[9]


Since Carl stayed at Beryl’s house, Beryl forced him to drop out of school and get his own money. But, his surname caused difficulties for him to get a job. When he applied for job at Nugent’s store, he was rejected. “Carl started asking at the general store, but Mr Nugent didn’t trust kids to work for him, especially kids named Matt.”[10] The action Carl got was also the same when he asked for job at