Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Study Guide: Ransom vs Invictus: Structure

Although the narrative perspective is that of third person, each of the five sections of the tale has a different focus that encourages readers to make sense of the story from the varying stances of the central characters, Achilles, Priam and Somax.

The plot of Ransom is structured in five sections, each with its own focus and purpose. The complex and multilayered plot unfolds over the course of a single day.

Source: Insight text article on Ransom by David Malouf, Dr Kim Edwards, Insight Publications 2010.

Shifting Perspectives

‘The sea has many voices’ (p.3)

Chapter divisions in Malouf’s novel correspond with different character perspectives and changes in time, location and scene:

I. Dawn on the bare, desolate seashore and war-torn plains, from the perspective of Achilles.

II. Priam’s bustling, urban day inside private and enclosed spaces of bedchambers and inner courts.

III. Somax’s voice as storyteller dominates his realm: the fertile natural world between encampment and city.

IV. The evening introspection of Achilles contrasts with loud military camp life and the new perspectives of Priam and Somax.

V. A new day dawns as the three protagonists return to their normal roles, contemplating the impact the experience has had upon their lives.

These places and their inhabitants exist in close geographical proximity but are worlds apart. There are metaphors of time at play as this is the passing of a single day in a ten-year war. Malouf presents the life-cycle of man, contrasting traditional male roles through age, class and status which are evoked by the changing perspectives of young warrior, elderly king and common man.

Source: Insight text article on Ransom by David Malouf, Dr Kim Edwards, Insight Publications 2010

Embedded Narratives

Many stories are told within the story to unveil the past or foreshadow the future, including:

  • Achilles and Patroclus’ first meeting (pp.10–13)
  • Priam’s childhood (pp.63–79)
  • Somax’s home life (pp.118–121, 130–135)
  • Priam’s impending death (pp.212–214).

This interweaving of narratives highlights the significance of causality in the fall of Troy: how one event can create a terrible chain of conflict and how a single life or death can mark an end to an entire family, city or history.

Source: Insight text article on Ransom by David Malouf, Dr Kim Edwards, Insight Publications 2010

The Library is open 8.00 to 4.30 Mon-Thurs, 8.00 to 3.30 Fri. Extended hours for Year 12 students: 8.00 - 5.30 Mon-Thurs. We also have a selection of games available to play during recess and lunch. Only games from the Library are to be played.