“Secrets” by Tim Winton is about a young girl called Kylie who feels inadequate and lonely by her mother’s lack of care and love and the missing father figure in her life. Kylie is having trouble dealing with her parents break up, she doesn’t know why her dad has left, it was something she wasn’t allowed to know so she feels alone, confused and unhappy, she also has to learn to accept the fact that another man has taken her dads place and that person is Philip. “Mum and Philip laughed or shouted and reminded her that Dad didn’t live with them anymore”, she doesn’t really want to think of her dad gone.
Kylie is constantly looking at her photo albums; she looks for her dad but can never find him because he is always the one that takes the photos, which shows that he showed some interest and attention towards Kylie which made her feel special. Compared to Philip, she missed her father even more. Philip hits and abuses her and doesn’t even know she exists. Kylie thinks Philip is a joke and doesn’t like him and have any respect for him. She is rebellious towards Philip and disobeys him by gong down the well even though he told her not to.
Kylie does not understand why Philip is replacing her father. Kylie feels patronised, inadequate and left out because Philip laughs at the things she says and her mother listened to her with a smile that said you don’t know a single thing. Her mother is always spending time with Philip and to Kylie, it seems like her mother loves Philip more. She sees her mother and Philip as a unit and feels excluded because she always sees them together whether they are laughing or arguing, and was only allowed to look at the bottle that Philip and her mother shared.
The bottle symbolises the unity that her mother and Philip has, and how they exclude her. Kylie compares herself and her mother in a photo and feels that she is “ugly and short and dark” compared to her mother who had “long, wheaten hair blew in the wind or hung still and beautiful” Kylie also feels resentful and angry towards her mother because she is being denied of knowledge. Since her mother doesn’t tell her things, Kylie has to go to an encyclopaedia. “She knew now that there would be chicks. The encyclopaedia said so. ”
When Kylie found the eggs one day, she felt proud that she had a secret-something that her mother and Philip didn’t know about. She likes the mother hen so much because it won’t judge her and it is a reflection of her because the hen is always getting picked on by the rooster, running away and hiding in the same yard as her. They are both powerless. The rooster who has “angry colours and looked mean”, represents Philip who hits and abuses her. Kylie takes care of the hen and the eggs in a way she wants to be taken care of and loved for.
She sees the hen as her only friend who knows how she feels. The eggs symbolises hope and power for Kylie, because they are her secret and it is something that her mother and Philip doesn’t know about, and she feels in control by going behind their backs and doing something they are unaware of. Kylie is fascinated by the well because it is a place where she can be alone and away from her mother and Philip. The well is her sanctuary where she can have secrets and makes her feel secure. But on the other hand, the well symbolises her sadness and lonesome because it is dark, empty and quiet.
Kylie is fascinated by the danger and risk of going down the well, “the sun winked off it in the mornings” which made it more alluring and ominous, and it makes her feel powerful and in control knowing that she is rebelling against Philip “It was like a drop of water in a straw or a piece of rice in a blowpipe”. Kylie often goes down the well to reflect on her life, think about her father and look at photos. After going down the well, Kylie was in her room and she found a photo of herself where her smile told her that there was something she knew that the photographer didn’t.
It was obvious that she liked this photo and the way she looked in it because she described herself as “small, dark-haired, with her hands propping up her face” instead of “ugly and short and dark” as she had described herself when comparing to her mother. It “made her confident” because the knowing expression on her face on the photo reflected on the secret that she had-the eggs and the well. It “made her think Philip and her mother were stupid” and “stopped her from feeling lonely” because she was the only person who knew about the chicks and keep going down the well even though Philip told her not to.
Knowing this made her feel powerful and in control because it was her own discovery and no-one knew about it and couldn’t stop her. Kylie was not prepared when Philip decided to weed the garden at last. This shows that Philip is also a lazy person. When Philip discovered that Kylie had been in the well, he hit her and told her he was buying a padlock in the morning. Kylie expressed her anger and sadness by throwing the newly born chicks down the well, then seeing the hen squawking insanely, dropped it down the well too.
She felt so unloved by her mother that she wanted the hen and chicks to feel the same pain that she felt, and because they were her secret that Philip and her mother still don’t know about, she dropped them down the well so they would never find out about her secret. Kylie cut her head off the “knowing” photograph and poked it through a hole in the flyscreen of the window because part of her secret has gone and she has given up. She realizes that the photo isn’t reality and she doesn’t have a secret anymore. She is expressing her pain and hurt.