“Sometimes Fi seemed like an exotic butterfly.”
Name: Fiona ‘Fi’ Maxwell
Fi is Ellie’s role model and one of her closest friends. As the war rages on, Ellie finds comfort in Fi and fills the emptiness caused by the loss of Corrie.
Fi comes from a wealthy family, unlike the majority of the group born in the country, so it’s easy to imagine the sheltered environment she comes from. She has never experienced a camping trip or any adventure in the remote Australin bush. You’re more likely to see Fi doing ballet, flower arrangements and serving tea (“Unlike us rurals she lived in town and spent more time playing piano than drenching sheep or marking lambs.” Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 1). She’s naive, innocent and the gentle soul of the group.
With the war coming, Fi is forced to put all of her biggest fears aside. She has a toughness underneath that shows through when the situation demands it and although she is not able to take a position, she would never turn against the group and follows their plans without arguing.
Throughout the series Ellie’s admiration for Fi grows as she’s the only one who manages to stay calm, quiet and graceful even when the world is turned upside down. She stays true to herself throughout all their journey (“The war had changed many or most things but Fi was still as innocent, as untouched by badness, as she had been at the start. I don’t know how she did it.” The Night Is For Hunting, Chapter 11).
Ellie’s admiration for Fi…
“Fi was always a bit of a hero to me, someone I looked up to as the perfect person. When she did something wrong I’d say, ‘Fi! Don’t do that! You’re my role model!’ I love her beautiful delicate skin. She has what my mother calls ‘fine features’. She looked like she’d never done any hard work in her life, never been in the sun, never got her hands dirty, and that was all true, because unlike us rurals she lived in town and spent more time playing piano than drenching sheep or marking lambs.” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 1)
“That was Fi, walking alone through the dark night looking for enemy patrols, lighting a petrol-soaked fuse to blow up a bridge, riding a motorbike across country in a wild scramble to escape bullets.
I’d been awfully wrong about Fi.
And I still hadn’t got her figured out. After we’d blown up the bridge she’d been giggling, saying, ‘I can’t believe I did that! Let’s do some more!’ After Kevin drove away with Corrie unconscious in the back seat she cried for a week.” (The Dead Of The Night, Chapter 1)”
“The one who handled it best of any of us, at that stage, was Fi. Fi was so lightly built that she looked like a grasshopper. She was all leggy. Maybe that was why I always thought of her as frail, easily broken, needing protection. But she had a strength that I could never quite figure out. I don’t know where it came from, or where she stored it. How much heart could she fit inside her little frame? How tough could that balsawood body be? It’s not that she had no feelings. Fi had always been mega-sensitive. She seemed strung like a violin: the slightest touch made her vibrate. But the terrible things we’d done didn’t eat away inside her like they did the rest of us. She rose above them.” (The Third Day, The Frost, Chapter 1)
“‘Fi,’ I said at last, ‘just what have you got in that pack?’
She sat up, looking startled. ‘What do you mean? Just clothes and stuff. Same as everyone else.’
‘What clothes exactly?’
‘What Corrie told me. Shirts. Jumpers. Gloves, socks, undies, towel.’
‘But what else? That can’t be all.’
She started looking a bit embarrassed.
‘Dressing gown? Fi!’
‘Well, you never know who you’ll meet.’
‘I’m not telling you any more. You’ll all laugh at me.’
‘Fi, we’ve still got to get the food into these packs. And then carry them God knows how far.’
‘Oh. Do you think I should take out the pillow then?’” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 2)
“‘What are two-minute noodles?’ Fi asked.
Lee and I looked at each other and grinned.
‘It’s an awesome feeling,’ Lee said, ‘to realise you’re about to change someone’s life forever.’
‘Haven’t you ever had two-minute noodles?’ I asked Fi.
‘No. My parents are really into health foods.’
I’d never met anyone who hadn’t had two-minute noodles before. Sometimes Fi seemed like an exotic butterfly.” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 3)
“‘Why were you standing in the creek?’ I asked Fi.
‘To get away from the snake of course.’
‘But Fi, snakes can swim.’
‘No they can’t … can they? Oh my God. Oh my God. I could have died. Thanks for telling me guys.’” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 4)
Fi is graceful…
“Fi looked fantastic, flicking her long hair out of her eyes and moving with the grace of a heron.”
But looking again at Fi, I was sure that she knew. There was something just a bit self-conscious about the way she was walking, and the way she stood there in the cooling sunlight, like a model doing a fashion shoot on a beach. I think she knew, and loved it.” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 5)
“Opposite Homer, sitting with her slender feet and her perfect ankles and her ballerina legs dangling in the water, was Fi. She still looked like she’d always done: ready to pour tea for your grandmother, and hand it over in a Royal Doulton cup. Or ready to step onto the cover of a Western Rose clothes catalogue. Ready to break another guy’s heart or make another girl jealous or make your own father go red and laugh and chatter away like he was twenty years younger. Yes, that was Fi: cute, pretty and fragile.” (The Dead Of The Night, Chapter 1)
“Across from him, and fifty metres in front, was Fi, who even now in her exhaustion walked gracefully, as though her feet needed only to brush the ground on each step to keep propelling her forward. She was looking around as she walked, like a wild swan searching for water. Not for the first time I wished I had a quarter of her style. When you looked at her you forgot that her clothes were as grubby as yours, her body as smelly and dirty. She had class without being conscious that she had it; that was her secret, and because I knew that, I would never have it.” (The Dead Of The Night, Chapter 5)
Fi on the war…
“‘I know what our parents would say,’ Fi said. ‘They’d say that the most important thing to them is our safety. They wouldn’t want us dead in exchange for them living. In a way we’re what gives their lives their meaning. But we can’t be bound by that. We have to do what’s right for us. We have to find meanings for our own lives, and this might be one of the ways we do it. I’m with Corrie; scared out of my skin, but I’ll do it because I can’t imagine the rest of my life if I don’t.’” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 13)
“‘I know logically we should do this and we should do that. But all I know is that the thought of doing anything makes my nose bleed. All I really want to do is to go down to the Hermit’s hut and hide under his mouldy old bed till this is over. I’m really fighting myself to stop from doing that. I suppose when the time comes I’ll probably do whatever I have to do, but the main reason I’ll do it is because I feel the pressure of keeping up with you guys. I don’t want to let you down. I’d feel so ashamed if I couldn’t match you in whatever it is we decide to do. I don’t think there’s any way we can help our families right now, so not losing face with you all has become my biggest thing. And what worries me is that I can’t guarantee I won’t pack up under pressure. The trouble is, I’m so full of fear now, that anything could happen. I’m scared that I might just stand there and scream.’” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 18)
Fi has changed…
“‘Fi, I think you’ve become more free in a way. I mean, you think about your life before, living in that big house, going off to your piano lessons, mixing with the rich and the famous. Now you’ve been camping in the bush for months, fighting in a war, racing round blowing things up, looking after chooks and growing vegetables … It is a kind of freedom compared to what you used to have.’
‘I could never go back to that life,’ Fi said. ‘I don’t want to keep living like this either, of course. But if the war ended tomorrow, I couldn’t suddenly start worrying about flower arrangements for Mum’s dinner parties, and having the right paper for answering invitations. I don’t know what I’d do, but I’d try to find something useful, something that would stop this stuff happening again.’” (The Dead Of The Night, Chapter 15)
“We’d become genuine bush fighters, even Fi.
Before the war she wouldn’t have done anything more dangerous than stay at a party till midnight.” (The Night Is For Hunting, Chapter 8 )
Fi is scared…
“‘I can’t stand the waiting.’ She looked too thin in the darkness, like a ghost. I touched her cold cheek and she gave a little sob. I hadn’t realised how scared she was. All the time we’d spent holed up in Hell had preyed on her mind. But we had to be tough when we were out here in the streets. We needed Fi if we were going to check the Hospital thoroughly.” (The Dead Of The Night, Chapter 2)
“Fi seemed delicate and timid, and she even claimed herself that she was, but she had a determination I hadn’t recognised before. There was a spirit to her, a fire burning inside her somewhere.” (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Chapter 21)