No Sugar Essay:

Throughout Australian history a racist attitude towards Aboriginals has
been a significant issue. The instant the early settlers arrived on our
shores and colonised, the Aboriginals have been fighting for the survival
of their culture. The Aboriginals haven been take in and dominated to bring
them in line with an idealistic European society. These themes have been
put forward by Jack Davis in his stage play, No Sugar, the story of an
Aboriginal family’s fight for survival during the Great Depression years.

In communicating the racist and unfriendly attitudes of the leading white
ideology towards, for example, discrimination and adjustment, Davis
constructs characters, which are continuously under fire and in opposition
to the oppressing dominant white society. Admittedly Davis utilises his
characters to confront the audience and take them out of their comfort
zone, showing them the reality of Aboriginal treatment.

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Throughout the Great Depression discrimination and racism were both major
issues relating to Aboriginals. Jimmy Munday, one of the more outspoken
characters in No Sugar is characterised as the activist and lone Aboriginal
voice that is constantly challenging dominant white principles. Jimmy is a
character shown to constantly rebel against the prejudiced attitude towards
Aboriginals. When the officials plan to relocate the Government Well
Aboriginals, it reveals the racism in white authority, as the town wants to
be devoid of all things Aboriginal, for the sole purpose of a politician
winning an election. Realising he is relatively powerless against the
oppressing white society Jimmy continues to treat the white authority with
hatred, voicing the discrimination he feels: “You reckon blackfellas are
bloody mugs. Whole town knows why we’re goin. ‘Coz Wetjalas in this town
don’t want us’ ere, don’t want our kids at the school, with their kids, and
old Jimmy Mitchell’s tight’ coz they reckon Bert ‘Awke’s gonna give him a
hidin’ in the election.”
This illustrates the hatred towards Aboriginals throughout white society,
through Jimmy actively resisting major white ideas from his position.

It also shows the strong prejudiced and racist attitude towards

Adjustment was seen as a major historical practice to attempt to destroy
the Aboriginal culture. Aboriginals in No Sugar are able to challenge
dominant white beliefs, but ultimately they do not succeed. This concept
can be distinctly seen in Gran Munday.

Through Gran’s use of her own language (Nyoongah) Davis is able to
spotlight the cultural characteristics of Aboriginal people by expressing
her demands to be heard. She disrupts white authority by not adopting the
dominant Western Cultural ways. This is clearly demonstrated when Gran
speaks in her language: “I’m warrah, guny tjeinu minditj, and I get no
The above quote shows that the dominant white society has been unable to
destroy her aboriginality. This is due to her aggressively resisting white
dominant value systems and using her own language as a symbol of her
cultural characteristics. Gran throughout the text is portrayed as
possessing traditional Aboriginal qualities, such as her skilled knowledge
of bush alternatives. When Neville whips Mary, Gran comes to the rescue:
“No ‘mine, No ‘mine put this jeerung nreear on your back, fix you up quick
and make you better.” This furthermore presents Gran as a traditional
Aboriginal with her culture strongly intact. Her knowledge of native
medical herbs and traditional midwifery skills, she continues to use the
white society for what she wants, and only utilises the bare essentials of
the Western Culture that she needs to survive. This can be seen as
resisting the help of the dominant white society and therefore challenging
assimilation in not using Western Culture medicine. This is reinforced when
Matron offers Gran baby powder: “Don’t need powder, use me own!”
Davis has constructed Gran as the independent culturally unbroken
Aboriginal in order to influence the audience on the issue of adaptation.

Through her actively resisting assimilation the audience is influenced to
see that the aboriginality and all its cultural elements are rapidly being
disintegrated through the domination of the white society and this
influences the audience to feel compassion towards Aboriginals in their
ongoing fight for survival in the cultural prison they are in.

Through the construction of such characters as Jimmy and Gran the audience
is influenced to see the horrific efforts of the dominant white society in
order to understand and overpower Aboriginals. Davis’ construction of such
characters as Jimmy and Gran the audience is influenced to see that
discrimination and strong factors in the ongoing cultural survival of
Aboriginals within a Western society.

Total Words: 785 words


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