Cloudstreet is framed by many key events in world history, including World War II, the Korean War and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The novel takes place during the prime ministership of Robert Menzies, where Australia was, for the most part, comfortable and conservative, characterised by backyard barbecues, by wives - who were no longer needed for the war effort - consigned to the home, and by the growth of the Australian dream of owning a new home. World events influence the Lambs and Pickles, but distantly, like an echo that sends ripples across the surface of their lives. The novel focuses on the domestic, and this serves as the filter through which history is measured. The most prominent historical character within Cloudstreet is the Nedlands monster, whose real name is Eric Edgar Cooke, a serial killer whom the book states single-handedly "made Perth into a real city". He represents an alternative aspect of life, his journey used in juxtaposition with Quick Lamb's journey.
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