Australian Identity Essay

1049 WordsJun 11, 20125 Pages
There is no such thing as a definite true Australian identity. Rather, there are multiple constructed versions, where no one version can be decisively labeled correct of wrong. Both the novel The Secret River and the poem ‘We are Going’ portray an alternative reading of national identity which is resistant to the dominant versions that are based on the twin myths of the Bush and the Anzacs. The first myth is based upon the achievements of the white settlers in an unknown and foreign land, and the second celebrates the courage of the Anzacs. However, these dominant versions work to silence or marginalize particular groups in Australian society. These groups include non-Anglos, women and the indigenous people. On the other hand, the Secret River and ‘We are Going’ challenge the conventional settlement, and foreground the ‘secret river’ of violence and bloodshed which occurred during the forceful takeover of the land. The two texts similarly employ the representations of people, places, events and things to construct a resistant reading. The people featured in both the novel and the poem are employed by the authors to support their resistant reading. Grenville and Noonuccal are both prepared to acknowledge the white settlers, but foreground the existence of the original owners- the blacks. The white settlers are represented as emancipists- an ex-convict given pardon. This representation contradicts the mainstream version of fearless men, suddenly thrust into an alien land, and, through sheer tenacity adapt to the extent that they come to call this new land ‘home’. In the novel, Grenville separates the characters into a wide spectrum. On one end there are men and women like ‘Dick’, ‘Blackwood’ and ‘Mrs Herring’- people who are prepared to compromise and negotiate with the blacks. The quote “Take a little give a little” (Grenville, 2005) exemplifies their disposition

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