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The novel “Black Snake” by Carole Wilkinson explores Ned Kelly’s tragic transformation from a poor but brave farmer to a wanted criminal due to the manner he and his family were treated. From an early age Ned is treated unfairly, being accused of crimes, provoked by the police and looked down upon because of his family. Firstly, Ned becomes Harry Power’s apprentice. Following this Ned shoots three police officers at Stringy Bark Creek. Consequently, Ned is finally Hanged.
At the start of the novel Ned Kelly becomes Harry Power’s apprentice as a juvenile bushranger.
Ned needed this apprenticeship to earn valuable money and spoils his family so desperately needed to survive. Harry and Ned specialized in highway robberies: “They would hide in the Strathbogie Ranges and suddenly appear on the roadside pointing guns at unsuspecting travelers and demanding their money and valuables.” This tells us that Harry did not set a notable example for Ned to follow, by teaching him about breaking the law and leading a life of crime.
This was the start of Ned’s turn to crime.
Towards the middle of the novel Ned shoots and kills three police officers. Ned intendeds to find a police camp and steal their guns so he has firearms for later encounters or robberies but when he leaves Ned is a murderer who has murdered not one but three people: “Three policemen were dead. Two women were widows. Nine children were fatherless. Ned had previously been wanted for the attempted killing of Fitzpatrick and horse theft.
Now he was wanted for murder just because he tried to get firearms to fight a fair battle against the police. He had not expected such a grave outcome but got one by acting purely in self-defense. This affected Ned as now he has the full force of the Victorian police force after him. Any member of the public is now allowed the right to shoot and kill him without question. Ned has just turned his situation from bad to worse and abandoned all attempts to earn an honest living.
In the final chapter of the novel Ned is hanged. Ned’s life on the run was finally over, he had been captured after the Glen Rowan Inn shootout and put in solitary confinement with no visitors. However, the police made one exception, Ned’s mother Ellen Kelly who he had not seen in 2 years. Five months after the Glenrowan siege Ned went to the Supreme Court in Melbourne with a young, unexperienced Barrister who did not know Ned’s case: “Justice Barry pronounced the sentence: death by hanging.” Even with this sentence people still wanted to save Ned as they saw him as the hope for poor and underprivileged people and wanted him to keep fighting for their rights, five days before Ned is hung his solicitor starts a petition that gathers 32,000 signatures however this is still not enough to save him. Ned is hanged in Melbourne Gaol at 10 am on 11 November 1880 at the young age of 25 his life has come to a tragic end.
Ned has been treated unfairly, accused of crimes, provoked by the police and looked down upon because of his family, but Ned stayed brave being calm until the final moments. He was intelligent and brave but his situation was unfavorable, however he still left his mark on Australia and is remembered to this day for his bravery. He showed us even in the struggles of life we can still stand up and speak for what is right which is what Ned did throughout his life.
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