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February 26, 2024, 06:27:28 pm

Author Topic: English essay  (Read 4108 times)

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English essay
« on: June 09, 2021, 07:13:30 pm »

Henry Lawsons texts The Drovers Wife and The Unions Buries Its Dead reflects on past representations of national identity. Both short stories explore the literary genre of realism that purports to represent a person or thing in a way that is accurate, true and factually synonymous to life. This was an important mode for representing the emerging Australian identity. It was different to the popular forms of British texts, and leant itself well to the harshness and isolation of the Australian environment. In doing this, it shifted away from a romanticised view of Australia and shed light upon the adversities, monotony and the nihilistic attitudes embedded in Australia's collective identity and culture. 


The environment which an individual resides in coerces one to adjust to the current setting for the sole purpose of survival. As the eldest boy espies the snake he yells ‘Stop there, mother! I'll have him. Stand back! I'll have the beggar!’ The Australian vernacular creates a conversational tone by divulging the masculine role the boy is preserving in the absence of a father figure. Additionally, it postulates the Aussie battler ideology as the eldest boy confronts the adversities prevalent in the inexorable Australian environment. Moreover, the Australian outback is described as being vast and bleak as it is “nineteen miles” away from “the nearest sign of civilisation”. The alliteration emphasises the monotony and secluded state of the drover's wife and affirms to the audience the prolonged distance amidst her family and her neighbour. Therefore, it disregards the possibility of acquiring aid in instances of adversities. Thus, the environment one resides in has an immense impact on the attributes an individual inherits.


The Australian landscape is deeply embedded in Australia's culture and identity. The Australian landscape consists of “Bush all round—bush with no horizon, for the country is flat. No ranges in the distance. No undergrowth.” The utilisation of repetition emphasises the absence of familiar features which deprives her of any sensory experiences. Additionally, the waterless creek symbolises nature's ability of working against her./highlights the drovers wife's struggle against her circumstances and the environment.  In doing this, it reveals the abrasive nature of the Australian outback. Furthermore, the negative imagery in “four ragged, dried-up-looking children” affirms to the audience the harsh reality of residing in the bush and the endurance of poverty and adversities. The anonymity eliminates the relevance of these children as Lawson juxtaposes them to the arid setting. Therefore, Lawson divulges the reality of the Australian culture, moving away from a romanticised view.


Australia's national identity has emerged from the implementation of British practices. As the priest sprinkled holy water onto the coffin “the drops quickly evaporated” and the hot sun meant that the guests “shoved their hats on and off uneasily". Through the practical inability of elements of the funeral to take place, Lawson symbolically suggests that British culture and its religion are incompatible with the Australian environment. The incompatibility of British religion with the Australian outback leads to the narrator's nihilistic outlook of spirituality as he believes that “not one of the fourteen possessed a soul any more than the corpse did- but that doesn’t matter”. Lawson compares a funeral possession to a dead man through a simile, suggesting that we become lifeless corpses in the Australian outback. Additionally, he denotes that spirituality becomes meaningless in the bush, where the only motivation is survival. Hence, British practices are a prominent feature of the Australian bush identity. 


Australia has self-constructed its own values practices and customs which has formed its identity and culture. When the narrator is asked if he knew the name of the dead man, he responds “no; but I know he was a union man”.- what technique can this be? The lack of name strips the dead man of a personal identity, which is replaced with the collective identity of the union. Lawson suggests that the union, rather than religion, act as the force which binds outback culture and provides some remnant of meaning within a barren nihilistic landscape. Furthermore,