The Billet And We Look After Our Own: Short Story

558 Words3 Pages
Two short stories, We Look After Our Own by Oodgeroo Noonuccal and The Billet by Graeme Lay, both deal with issues of racism and stereotyping. The authors reveal the racist attitudes of some of the characters in the stories through what they say, how they act and how they react when they come into contact with indigenous people. The language devices and well drawn setting support these main ideas well. Oodgeroo Noonuccal sets her short story in rural Australia at Easter time. As an elderly man nears death, his daughter is persuaded to abandon her people’s tradition of looking after their “own”, because she cannot bear to watch her father die. The setting encourages the reader to think about the writer’s ideas, because the heat and drought reflect the deterioration of the old man’s life. He is a good man whose recollections show a full and significant existence. She takes him to a nursing home, but is sent away because of the colour of her father’s skin. His poor treatment there is more shocking because he has been drawn as a character who had, “worked hard” and ”owed nothing to any man.” Mrs Edwards, the daughter, is confused at first by the nun’s reaction to seeing her. When the nun asks, “Is your father lighter or darker than you?” she begins to realize that he will not be admitted there. The nun sends them away and delivers the platitude, “God bless you dear”. Mrs Edwards replies “and God pity you sister”. Her father dies at home, and she has endured the agony of watching him die. As she waits for her family to arrive to mourn the old man’s death on Easter Sunday, the writer ironically contrasts his death with the day of Christ’s resurrection. The combination of the timing of the events and the revelation that not all Christians act in a Christian manner ensures that this is a very moving story. The Billet also presents a picture of racist
Open Document