Characters My Place

Characters: My Place - Sally Morgan #

None of the characters in the book are well known except in that each is special and loved and eventually become noteworthy, full of worth. Nan at first feels worthless but gradually develops self worth through love exhibited by her child and grandchildren.

The main Characters: #

Sally #

The first person narrator, Sally simply and candidly tells us the story of her life and her emerging self discovery and voice.

Sally learns to stand up for herself and asserts her rights as a part Aboriginal reclaiming her identity. Her main aim is to tell us the Nan’s story of “unspeakable” treatment, Sally does not spare us the atrocities committed by respectable white people.

Jill, a sister: #

She becomes a foil to Sally, much more compliant, enjoys school, not interested in heritage; Jill is content to live her own life without reclaiming her identity.

Mother - Gladys: #

An inspiring woman, survives a brutal violent marriage, starts working life as cleaner at the school, and eventually establishes a successful business. She motivates the girls to do make something of themselves. Gladys is reluctant to find about her origins as one of the “Stolen generation”.

Father – Bill Milroy: #

Non- aboriginal former soldier who suffers what we today call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to his war experiences in Greece, which led him to hard drinking, violent temper outbursts against his family, long stays in hospital and a lack of financial support for his family.

Gladys describes his nightmares.

He’d suffered from them ever since he’ come back from war. He’d scream and scream at night. I used to feel sorry for him. Before we were married, I had thought that the idea of being a POW was very heroic and romantic, now I thought differently. (354)

He suicides when Sally is ten years old leaving them destitute but free of more threats of physical and emotional abuse.

Nan – Daisy: #

Sally first portrays Daisy as quirky with many peculiar habits. We see her through a child’s eyes: her fear of authority figures, her strange remedies, her loyalty and devotion to her family and her secret past. Eventually this becomes a story about Nan’s life and her horrific life that she is determined to take to her grave.

We finally learn the truth through Sally’s persistence from varied sources especially Daisy’s brother Arthur and from Alice Drake-Brockman.

Nan eventually reveals that her mother was raped by the wealthy highly respectable Squattor, Howden Drake-Brockman, so she is his daughter. Later she herself is raped by Howden several times and incestuously gives birth to two daughters, the first one, Alice, is given away, and the second one is Gladys.

White Church ministers preached that they should save themselves for marriage, but most or us had already been taken by white men. We felt really shamed.

Nan is paranoid about losing Gladys and later her grandchildren.

A number of times, Nan tells of how the young were treated like slave labour and in hospitals, treated like animals.

Arthur – brother to Nan #

The first man to open the window to the past. It is his telling the story of his life that eventually persuades Gladys and Daisy to partially tell us the story of their abused lives.

Despite his horrendous childhood, Arthur works hard often unpaid, but eventually becomes established and buys his own properties. Arthur inspires the rest to reclaim their identity and stand up for themselves.

Steps in Sally’s search for selfhood #

  1. Standing up to Authority figures:

Teacher (Miss Roberts) martinet (24)

Father: Pub incident (27/28),

Abuse Ch. 26

Government Official (140—141)

Doctors taking care of Nan. (314)

Nan’s defiant assertion that “at least we not owned any more."

  1. Family’s Denials of aboriginality.

Say you’re Indians (38)

Nan’s comments on blackfellows (122)

Nan’s refusal to cooperate in search.

  1. Early Clues that they may be aboriginal:

Bull frog & bird (13)

goannas and swamp (57, 59)

old cures (65)

pigmentation (82)

dark aboriginal friend (111)

Mother’s admission (135)