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Discoveries and discovering can offer new understandings and renewed perceptions of ourselves and others. This is evident in the play “Away” by Michael Gow which focuses on aspects of discovery including realisations within oneself which can uncover further perceptions of ourselves or others, and the novel ‘Looking for Alibrandi’, which explores the senior years of Josephine “Josie” Alibrandi and her struggle in forming her identity, falling in love with Jacob Coote and the unexpected arrival of her father Michael Andretti.

Emotional turmoil and heartbreak may be a catalyst for discovery and acceptance of a situation. In “Away”, Harry and Vic are hoping the camping trip will help them overcome the shock of learning that Tom will die. “A few weeks just with ourselves. Just with you. It’ll be good.” Tom and his parents have accepted his inevitable death; however, there is still uncomfortableness between them in some situations. “Harry: when you’ve got your own family- Tom: do you want a drink or not?” In this scene, Gow uses the pause in Harry’s dialogue to the show the tension which has been created. Their tent symbolises their social status but also their lack of concern for material possessions as they are more focused on improving their relationships and spending time together. This makes them a happier family than the other two presented in the play.

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When a character is faced with a hardship, the way in which they deal with it allows them to grow themselves. In “Looking for Alibrandi”, Jacob Coote shared a romantic relationship with Josie which opened his out look on life. “I have never had to go out with an ethnic girl before.” Through this dialogue the audience is confronted with the different cultures and views Jacob believes compared to Josie. “I want all the things in life that John Barton wanted but he was too scared to step out of his circle. But I can’t do that with you.” The use of this dialogue clearly makes evident the maturity Jacob has gone through in undertaking his relationship with Josie. A character’s self-knowledge is pushed to the limits through challenges.

It must be discovered that healing can occur through love and reconciliation. In “Away”, Roy has been in conflict with Coral over her “strange” behaviour as he feels it is affecting his professional standing in the community. After losing a son in the Vietnam War, Roy has been impacted deeply but has, however, moved on whereas Coral is weighed down with a continuing grief which has caused struggle within the relationship. “Do you want me to arrange shock treatment?” Roy is obviously irritated with Coral’s detached and “ghostly” behaviour but it is not until Coral discovers reconciliation that she finds her happiness. During the dumb show, there is a visual representation of reconciliation as Roy buries his head in the shells and kisses Coral’s hands to symbolise the resolution of conflict.

The confrontation of events allows growth through self-worth and family. In “Looking for Alibrandi”, Josie’s father, Michael Andretti, revealed himself unexpectedly with no idea that he had a daughter. Through anger and confusion, both Josie and Michael are faced with hardships. “How dare you think that I want to be in your life!” The use of dialogue supports the frustration and hurt the character Josie is experiencing. Throughout the novel, the relationship between Michael and Josie grows from a completely opposing one, to a supporting and caring one. “I’d be so proud to be an Andretti…Dad.” Through this dialogue, it supports Michael and Josie’s discovering of their identity and outlook on life. Freedom is depicted from many struggles resulting in self discovery and self-worth.

Therefore, discoveries and discovering can offer new understandings of renewed perceptions of ourselves and others as shown evidently within “Away” by Michael Gow and “Looking for Alibrandi”. A theme of discovery can offer new understandings of ourselves and others, leading to renewed values and ideas and future possibilities. This is clearly shown within the relationships between characters throughout both the play and the novel.

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