Issues, Concerns, Themes, Values My Place Sally Morgan #
Sally is driven by a need to: #
interpret her life through a search of identity and heritage.
Hers is a struggle for self hood “Mum never let me belong”.
Her family attempts to deny her the right to know her heritage.
Sally takes a pilgrimage north links her to an extended family, to find “her place” - where Nan was born and where Sally comes from and feels she belongs.
The call of the bird at the end becomes a symbol that the Aboriginal call will continue.
My Place displays a strong social consciousness. (explodes a number of myths)
- Nan’s experiences literally “unspeakable”
Threat of separation — alienation of her people.
She is taken away from her people to Perth against the law.
She is raped by a pillar of society, an upper class white landowner
Aboriginals provide the “slave” labour upon which the country is built. Most of her servitude was not compensated.
Feels she has and is being treated like an animal, dies > “seeing herself as little more than a beast in the fields”.
My Place is a tribute to Nan (Daisy) and people who suffered like her.
Themes & Concerns #
- White Atrocities committed by Individuals and Government Institutions.
Arthur goes to police for protection against the abuse carried out by Coulson, but is simply sent back where he is beaten brutally again with no consequences.
- Identity (both personal and collective) Half-caste Aborigines often have a fractured identity; do they belong to the whites or to the indigenous culture?
Gladys recounts an experience shortly after WWII:
Waiting for a bus, a lady began to chat.
“you’re very beautiful dear, what nationality are you, Indian? No, I smiled, “I’m Aboriginal”
She looked at me in shock. you can’t be, she said. “I am. “Oh, you poor thing, she said, putting her arm around me, “what are you going to do about it?
I didn’t know what to say. She looked at me with such pity. I felt really embarrassed. I wondered what was wrong with being Aboriginal. I wondered what she expected me to do about it.
Mixed blood Aborigines felt divided.
” I tell you, it made a wedge between the people. Some of the black men felt real low, and some of the native girls with a bit of white in them wouldn’t look at a black man. There I was, stuck in the middle. Too black for the whites and too white for the blacks. (420)
Steps in Sally’s search for selfhood #
- Standing up to Authority figures:
Teacher, Miss Roberts, a martinet, veteran of the women’s army, is authoritarian. Sally, failing to get her attention, wets herself and is thrown out of class.
Their Father, also a war veteran, held prisoner in Greece, resorts to long drinking sessions in the Pub, leaving the children unattended in the car. One hot day, the children get out of the car to play near the river. When the father finds them he scolds them for getting out of the car, but Sally, aged nine, stands up to him, accusing him of child neglect and he gives in to her.
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."
2) Family’s Denials of aboriginality. #
Say you’re Indians (38)
Nan’s comments on blackfellows (122)
Nan’s refusal to cooperate in search of her past.
3) Early Clues that they may be aboriginal: #
Bull frog & bird (13)
goannas and swamp (57, 59)
old cures (65)
dark aboriginal friend (111)
Mother’s admission (135)
4) Racism: #
“Conscious or unconscious belief in the inherent superiority of white Europeans which entitles white people to a position of dominance or privilege determined by racial origin.” Illustrated by:
a) Racist oppression - Nan experiences obvious discrimmination in her work, in hospitals and any engagement with bureaucracies.
b) Exploitation - Both Nan and Arthur suffer because of unpaid salaries.
c) Dispossession - We took their lands away without any compensation/
d) Vilification - Original inhabitants suffer verbal, psychologican and physical abuse from the invaders.
5) Aboriginality #
Land was illegally taken without ceding.
Culture - was suppressed and eradicated.
Language - indigenous languages were prohibited in favour of English.
Art - exploited by unscrupulous art dealers.
Tribal totems (groupings) - seriously disrupted by indiscrimminate enforced removals from land and place.
Continuity (heritage) vandalised.
Values - condescendingly ignored.