Robert Gray’s North Coast Town is a poem that shows how Australia is becoming more influenced by America and how the world is filled with artificiality. He presents us with a detailed description of the town which reflects his views on the changing nature of Australia. The poem takes on the persona of a hitchhiker without any money. The first stanza talks about how the persona gets up in the morning after sleeping on the beach.
The use of descriptive language creates a visual image for the reader, “a Shell station (with their Men’s locked),” The symbol of that petrol station is of a shell yet it’s devoid of any authenticity towards a natural shell signifying an artificial world. The craze of rock n roll in America made it’s way to Australia and having the same “greasy Fifties pompadour“ hairstyle like Elvis Presley’s was considered popular. The use of imagery in the fourth stanza creates a visual image of the typical 50’s hairstyle for the reader. This represents the superficiality and America’s strong influence on Australia’s identity.
The use of alliteration in the fifth stanza, “stucco… sea shells” evokes a stronger sense of the town’s lack of depth through its exaggerated decorations. Gray suggests that the town has lost its individuality, everything is borrowed from foreign cultures. The use of metaphor, “They’re making California”, highlights the fact that Australia idolizes America and are therefore strongly influenced by them. As the persona hitches a ride, he comes to see various superficial sides of the place. The idea of Americanisation is incorporated through the visual image of the “pink ‘Tropicana motel”.
It reveals the town’s pathetic attempt at imitating America. This represents the town people’s desperation to make money off of tourists. The “image flaps in shop fronts” also symbolizes the hopeless replicas everywhere. The town’s imitation of America is further enforced through use of verbs. “We pass bulldozed acres. ” This signifies the increase of urbanization within the settlement as their way of “making California”. In this poem, Gray utilizes various poetic techniques to show perspective on the artificiality and the influences of America corrupting the town.