'She hears her own thick voice deep inside her ears when she says, 'I need to know where I am.' The man stands there, tall and narrow, hand still on the doorknob, surprised. He says, almost in sympathy, 'Oh, sweetie. You need to know what you are.'
'Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of a desert. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a 'nurse'. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world? Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl's past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue - but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves.
'The Natural Way of Things is a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted. Most of all, it is the story of two friends, their sisterly love and courage.
'With extraordinary echoes of The Handmaid's Tale and Lord of the Flies, The Natural Way of Things is a compulsively readable, scarifying and deeply moving contemporary novel. It confirms Charlotte Wood's position as one of our most thoughtful, provocative and fearless truth-tellers, as she unflinchingly reveals us and our world to ourselves.' (Publication summary)
Planned as a micro-budget feature film adaptation, the film is the work of independent producers Katia Nizic and Emma Dockery.
Unit Suitable For
AC: Senior Secondary Literature (Unit 4)
dystopia, feminism, gender, gender roles and stereotypes, human rights, misogyny, nature, patriarchy, power and authority, social control, stereotypes, Sustainability, the environment
Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Literacy, Personal and social
'Charlotte Wood is the award-winning and acclaimed author of six novels, a collection of interviews and a book about cooking. She has won the Stella Prize, the Prime Minister's Literary Award, the Indie Book of the Year, and most recently the ABIA for Literary Fiction.
'This interview explores her 2021 work of non-fiction, The Luminous Solution: Creativity, Resilience and the Inner Life. Charlotte has appeared on The Garret before, once exploring her most famous work, The Natural Way of Things, and again discussing her novel, The Weekend.' (Production summary)
'Popular analyses of gendered violence focus on the need for an individually-focussed approach to the problem which calls for greater responsibility and accountability for individual men. Men who use violence are often viewed as bad apples; or as deviant to the moral codes which are necessary in a moral society. But contemporary Australian authors examine the socio-cultural, political and economic structures that promulgate inequality according to gender, class, age and culture. This inequality manifests in the gendered violence which Christos Tsiolkas, Richard Flanagan, Charlotte Wood, Zoe Morrison and Sofie Laguna portray as a product of neo-liberalism. The men within their fiction are affected by disconnection and individualism within our neo-liberal, patriarchal society. The male protagonists are subjects of, as well as producers of dominant practices of masculinity. Equally, their female characters are not merely passive victims of gendered power as they protest against and challenge the structures that support inequality. Through post-structural analyses which leaves room for contradiction and nuance within characters, these contemporary Australian authors are able to maintain hope for difference and redemption in the lives of men who use violence and abuse, and the women and children who are affected. They consciously avoid separating people in to categories of good or evil, or just and unjust, given that these dichotomies are central to the patriarchal and capitalistic systems of individuality and competition which they critique.' (Publication abstract)