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The Shifting Heart Essay

The Shifting heart is set in 1956 in the working class suburb of Collingwood, Melbourne. The play addresses racism treatment towards immigrants in post war Australia. Refugees were given jobs as labourers. The play is written as a response to the violent death of a polish immigrant, who violently took his own life at Christmas. The play itself is also set on Christmas Eve. An Italian family reaches boiling point, when conflict between neighbours of different cultures, arises. Various points will be made, dialogue between characters, setting and themes.

As the characters are all from different backgrounds and cultures, their way of speaking and their language is unique. The Australian in the story, Clarry displayed dialogue of a rather relaxed nature or tone, showing he is a true Australian. Clarry calls strangers “jack” and others “boy” or “mate”. Slang is used. For example: youse, dago and wog. These are used as tensions arise. This effectively shows the type of person Clarry is and the characteristics he possesses. The Italians of the novel occasionally talk in Italian to each other, as that is the language they are all most familiar with.

Their English isn’t the greatest and this is significantly obvious throughout the course of the book. “pss, .. Clarry. You don’t tell Gino I look at his bank book, uh? ” The book is set in 1954 in Collingwood, Victoria. It is a suburb popular to lower class Australians. Collingwood is known to be a rather rough area, that is home to the homeless and affordable housing, or better referred to as housing commission. It has steadily decomposed. The story is situated in a terrace row. It begins on Christmas Eve. Poppa’s music on the harmonica also sets the mood.

The house is a normal, stereotypical Italian household. The play is mostly set in the Bianchi’s backyard. The play begins with two pages of stage directions, stating that toward the left side of the stage, there lies an over filled garbage can. On the same side there is a fence, which forms a barrier with the other neighbours, Leila and Donny. The main issues of this novel all tie in with racism, stereotypes and discrimination. These are the themes. There is a lot of conflict between the two cultures, each feeling they are superior to the other.

The Italians stereotype Australians as those who love to drink and are fairly relaxed. The Australians are racist toward the Italians as they have migrated here from a different country, following world war II. Thus, it can be seen that in the play The Shifting Heart, set in Collingwood, focuses on racism, stereotypes and discrimination. Some characters do not get along very well with each other, and the play is predominantly set in the Bianchi’s backyard. Slang such as wog, dago and mate is used as stereotypical Australian language.

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