In Australia there is much controversy surrounding racism between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians. Phillip Gwynne’s novel Deadly Unna is an example of the relationships between the two cultures. Deadly Unna is based on a 14-year-old character named Blacky who lives in ‘the Port’ where the Non-Indigenous Australians or the ‘goongas’ live. On the outskirts of the township there is ‘the Point’ and this is where the Indigenous Australians or ‘nungas’ live. Blacky is an archetypal teenager, he plays football, and experiences the same anxiety in relation to girls and growing up. The theme of racism is of great importance throughout the novel so to the necessity for reconciliation and the hope that this brings. Gwynne cleverly incorporates dialogue and imagery to reveal these themes.
The relationship between Blacky and Dumby shows the responder that they do not conform to the standard of racism. Dumby Red is a footy star from the Point, to Blacky he is the perfect guy “This Dumby Red was trendy, he was talented, he was up himself, he wore Jezza’s number 25, and he had that smile.” – Blacky. Blacky was not always friends with Dumby, earlier in the novel he ranted on about how he hated his guts because he is a Non-Indigenous Australian. But later on Dumby stood up for Blacky in a fight; this changed his view of Indigenous Australians. The use of football as a reoccurring metaphor connects the two characters. “The footy was the only place for us and the nungas to be together”. This quote shows how the relationship between Dumby and Blacky can exist through a social barrier of racism.
Gwynne uses descriptive language when Blacky is attending Dumbys’ funeral to demonstrate to the responder that Blacky lacks understanding of Indigenous Australians and racism in the town. “Most of the houses were fibro, there were some brick ones as well. I thought that’s not right, they all had doors and windows. I had been told that the first thing nungas do is break all their windows and smash all their doors down.” – Blacky. Through this relationship between Blacky and Dumby, Gwynne has shown that Blacky has a strong relationship with Dumby, he doesn’t care that he is judged because he simply wants to respect an Indigenous Australian.
Gwynne has used the relationship between Blacky and Pickles to show the racist side of the town. The use of Pickles arrogance towards the feelings of the Indigenous Australian community shows that the Indigenous Australians are misunderstood and judged unfairly. “Why did you go to a boongs funeral Blacky?” – Pickles. Through this technique the responder can see that not only Pickles but also the port are racist towards Indigenous Australians. When Mark Arks received the B.O.G award Blacky was infuriated because he thought that Dumby was deserving of the trophy and not mark arks, he believed that Dumby did not receive it because of him being from Indigenous Australian background. “Mark arks getting the B.O.G, that’s bull****, that was Dumbys’ award!” – Blacky.
Through the dialogue that Pickles uses towards the Blacky and the Indigenous people it shows how commonly racism is used in the town and that it is of the norm to be racist. Gwynne also shows the relationship between Blacky and Dumby is contrasting to the one between Blacky and Pickles and that the relationship between pickles been forced over the years and now Blacky is starting to realise Pickles’ true traits. Through the use of a variety of language and techniques Gwynne has revealed themes of racism in the novel.
It is through the presentation of different relationships that Gwynne included two sides of racism in the Indigenous culture. The presentation of the relationships between Blacky and Dumby show that racism in the Port doesn’t effect Blacky, he cared about Dumby even though he was an Indigenous Australian. On the other hand the relationship with Pickles and Blacky is much different, Pickles is racist and doesn’t want to have Blacky being friends with an Indigenous Australia therefore Blacky feels he has to hide his friendship with Dumby. Elements that such as descriptive language and dialogues, metaphorical scenarios and different perspectives, combine to make Deadly Unna an entertaining novel for the responder.
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