Analytical Essay: ‘Deadly Unna?’

Analytical Essay: ‘Deadly Unna?’

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Analytical Essay: ‘Deadly Unna?’


The compassionate novel Deadly Unna?, written by Phillip Gwynne, creates vivid characters and depicts race discourses experienced by Gary Black (also known as Blacky) in a fictitious South Australian coastal community. The novel portrays a typical coastal town of the 1970s and is set mainly in the Port: the local Pub, the Black family home and the jetty, where the local children play. The story explores the racism between the Nungas (the indigenous population who live at the Point) and the Gooynas (the white population who live at the Port). As Blacky is from the Port, he only begins to develop awareness of the racism around him as a result of his friendship with Dumby Red, a Nunga football player, and consequently stops making racist jokes and comments. Analysis of racist ideas in the town, the marginalisation of the Nunga community, Blacky’s changing beliefs and how it influences and empowers him to respond to the death of Dumby Red, reveals that Gwynne encourages the reader to reject the racist values, attitudes and beliefs of Blacky’s community.

In the novel ‘Deadly Unna?’ various discourses about racism are portrayed, exemplifying the individual’s belief, attitudes and the values of the characters. The reader is positioned to view Blacky as having no knowledge of how racist his friends are through the racist comments that are made amongst them and Blacky's going along with it. At the start Blacky may not have been aware of the racism around him as he previously laughed and even told racist jokes. The statement “And the priest says I got the black bastard with the door. And they all laughed all the regulars. Especially Slogsy. But I didn’t. I don’t know why, I’d laughed at the joke bef...


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...ilty about the graffiti and takes it upon himself to get rid of it. Blacky even starts to have dreams about Slogsy writing ‘BOONGS PISS OFF’ (p.258-259) all over the town making him even more determined to do something about the graffiti and racism. This shows Blacky’s emerging ideology and how it influences and empowers Him to respond to the death of Dumby. Although the town culture is racist Blacky’s view is altered after being friends with some Aboriginals.

Blacky’s friendship with Dumby Red causes Blacky to stop making racist jokes and comments. Throughout the novel Gwynne drives the reader to reject the racist values, attitudes and beliefs of Blacky’s community, as seen in his portrayal of racist ideas in the town, the marginalisation of the Nunga community, Blacky’s emerging ideology and how it influences and empowers him to respond to the death of Dumby.

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