Life is a series of journeys, and all journeys involve a period of time. This period of time can depend on the degree of change and the significance of the journey but will always result in a change of personality and self beliefs. This meaning of inner journey is portrayed throughout a long and meaningful search for cultural identity and heritage in both Sally Morgans ‘my place’ and Phillip Noyce’s ‘rabbit proof fence’.
Where the characters in both texts are of indigenous heritage but are striped away from their culture and separated (physically in rabbit proof fence, mentally in my place) from their family, feeling alone and in a search for identity the three girls, Molly, Gracey and Daisy from the movie Rabbit Proof Fence and Sally from the novel My Place must undertake there own personal journey to discover who they are, where they belong, and how to return home, as proud aboriginals.
The series of inner journey’s in which Sally, and Molly underwent were vitally important in understanding their culture and family values. In sharing these journeys with the country the two aboriginal girls have become national representatives and icons for all aboriginals today. “… maybe they’ll understand how hard its been for the blackfella to live the way he wants. Im a part of history, that’ how I look on it. ”
They have opened up and shared a secret which has laid dormiant for years but have now led many Indigenous Australian’s to understand their place in the world, in their culture, and to overcome insecurities gained from years of abused authority from white society but most importantly it has allowed them and a whole nation to recognise the link between Aboriginal culture and the land which was vitally important to Aboriginal identity but was ‘stolen’ from them. It has opened up the search for truth and the need for identity for an entire race of Australians. ‘How deprived we would have been if we had been willing to let things stay as they were. We would have survived, but not as whole people. We would never have know our place. ’” My place and rabbit proof fence both link together in a relatively opposite but combined example of how the aboriginal population have suffered, it provides a first hand experience of how they were treated and the impact of being ‘stolen’ had on Aboriginal children and there families, both at the time and many years later.
The effects of the emotional events in the movie Rabbit Proof Fence help us identify with how devastating the experience of being apart of the ‘stolen generation’ was for the whole indigenous communities. We feel drawn to the traumatised and frightened family as the girls are taken away, we are taken to feel empathy for the grandmother, who begins striking her head with a stone, a symbolic gesture that a horrified event has just taken place.
The mothers and grandmother are portrayed as being useless in saving their girls and worthless by the officer who believes the children are better of brought up in white society, without their mothers. This common perception white society placed upon the Indigenous population of being in need of protection was believed to be a Christian ideal which was strongly thought of being the rightful thing to do. Mr Neville’s, the states protectors of aborigines speech in which he states “The native must be helped in spite of itself. is a key example in portraying the idea that it was most important to help protect these poor aboriginal children before they learn the ‘native’ ways of life instead of the believed ‘rightful’ white way of life. “We have an uphill battle with these people, especially the bush natives, who have to be protected against themselves. If only they would understand what we are trying to do for them… ” Although Mr Neville believes he is doing the right thing, we feel the irony of which he is not interested in ‘protecting’ these children or there welfare but is more concerned with the belief that the black can simply bred out.
He shows a level of racism were we believe his most important plan was to be rid of the “unwanted third race” and “advance it to white status”, as this is seen as the superior race. Whilst he states he is responsible for the Aborigines protection, he just like many others are responsible for causing more damage then can ever be undone. When the three girls are taken away we can acknowledge the symbolic scenes earlier on in the movie where the girls are happy, cared for and in there traditional environment with there family. To the contrast of an environment which is compeltley alien to the girls at Moore River.
The scenes of this traditional environment are juxtaposed with an environment which is complety alien to them showing Mr Neville in white society. Portraying the journey they, like hundreds of other aboriginal children have taken which will change them in ways which would seem inhumane to the girls at the time, but if they had of stayed at the settlement would have resulted in an opposite experience, leading them to think they are helping them by discovering Christ, and sending the ‘lighter’ ones, who are believed to be smarter to school.
Although they would have recieved very minimal education. Leading them to reject and forget there identity and culture, to feel ashamed and alone, with only the want to be of white heritage instead of black. While on the other hand, in the novel “my place” we are able to percieve a different view of how the policies the government enforced upon the aboriginal race, is still effecting families of indigenous heritage today.
Daisy and Gladys lived in the period at the time, where the white society believed they were in need of protection and these policies of protection were enforced. We discover events and the feelings of frustration and confusion which Daisy and Gladys both experience through reading their story which had been locked up for so long, through their individual fear for authroity and the shame of being Aboriginal which was enforced upon them by white society.
While these two story’s tells of experiences and the series of difficult journeys they faced, I believe that the most heart aching result we gather from this book is the effect it has continued to have on them throughout their whole life and the shame of heritage they feel which in turn effected the children who find themselves in a search for cultural identity and belonging as there family had never told them the truth and risk this shame befalling on them as well. The mother and grandmother would rather them believe they are of a completely different background and never no the truth like they do. ‘Now no more questions. You just tell them you’re Indian’”. Although Sally and her sibilings where brought up in a white society surrounding and have little if any knowledge of the cultural heritage they belong to. We can develop the sense of feeling where the children feel more at peace and at home, this being outdoors by the river, or climbing trees, unlike a lot of white society who stay at home in front of there televisions. We especially see this in Sally who talks of her experiences both in surrounding unnatural environments and the natural.
For example, Sally has a dislike for manmade, unnatural environments. Where we hear of numerous complaints in her dislike for school, and things such as hospitals, but can feel her joy when she writes about experiences outside catching various animals down by the river with her siblings. “I was a grubby 5 year old in an alien environment. ” This quote talks about her view of the hospital her dad stays at regularly. “One look and I was convinced that, like the hospital, it was a place dedicated to taking the spirit out of life. while this quote talks about her feelings towards her school. In comparison to “the swamp behind our place had become an important place for me. Itwas now apart of e, part of what I was as a person. ” showing the unbreakable bonds she feels for the environment around her and her respect towards it. The concept of family is an important link in Sally’s and Molly’s determination in refusing to accept the circumstances in which they are placed. Circumstances separating there families and accepting the ideals of white society.
Which therefore result in being a the key to the beginning and ending of there inner journeys. “Find that rabbit fence, we go home. ” A key example of this os the sheer determination Molly has in order to return home with Daisy and Gracey, back to their family and culture. Molly is the eldest of the three girls who are taken away and believes it is her responsibility to get them safely home. I think Molly’s intention and impromotue descison came from the short time she spends at Moore River settlement and the experiences she gains from the other girls.
She is able to make the connection between the girls who have been forced to let go of their heritage and forget their families and most importantly their mothers, as she is the oldest she had been taught traditions and realises the importance of family and had developed a powerful bond with her mother which she refuses to let go. Her aboriginal heritage is all she knows, it is these cultural values and her connection with the land, that lead her back along the remarkable journey home to her family.
However she fears that as Gracey and Daisy who are younger, may forget where they come from, their language and the connection they share with there home, leading them to accept the authority and teaching of white society, and let go of their mother. For example, when the girls walk into the nursery at the Settlement and see all the half cast babies there alone, Daisy asks “where there mother? ” only to be replied by “they got no mother… none of us here got mothers” daisy is left feeling confused as she had always thought every child had a mother including herself “I got a mother”
Unlike the children of Rabbit Proof Fence who experience a cultural up bringing and connection the land and their heritage, Sally Morgan begins her childhood happy, but ignorant of her aboirginal heritage, her autobiography indicates to us that she believes she is a ‘normal’ child. She is not told of her heritage and is disprivelgded in having no real traditions passed down to her, with the acceptance of her grandmothers knowledge of the animals and environment around her. Nan influenced us greatly when it came to our attitudes to the wildlife around us. ” Sally’s only real link at this stage to her heritage is the connection she naturally feels for the land and the animals and plants around her. “The swamp behind our place had become an important place for me. It was now apart of me, part of what I was as a person. ” However as sally gets older she begins to start discovering she is different, and begins to start realising this heritage which her family had hid from her. By the time I turned 14 and was in my second year at high school, I was becoming more and more aware that I was different to the other kids at school. ” This late realisation of her heritage comes from her mother and grandmothers strategy of denial, combined with the idea that Sally lived in her own world, and was unconcerned by the people around her, leaving her oblivious to certain racial themes. Sally feels confused and ashamed about why her family hid their heritage, she doesn’t understand why they lied or why they are ashamed of it, but she becomes determined to uncover the truth.
This quest sally undertakes in the search for knowledge and answers changes to become an emotional and spritual pilgremage not only her, but for her family which leads them on various inner journeys in accepting and embracing their aboriginal heritage. In understanding the importance of Inner Journey, not only for Sally and Molly, but for many of the other aboriginal characters in both the texts we need to understand the history and significance of the girls journy’s and how they have resulted in a change.
We see this more clearly in Sally when she begins to form the realisation she is not Indian, followed by the journey of discovery and the ability to overcome all odds to reach her goal, in telling a nation her story, her mothers, grandmothers and Arther’s story and helping them gradually declare their indigenous heritage. “.. There’s almost nothing written from a personal point of view about aboriginal people. All our history is about white man. No one knows what it was like for us. ”
We also see it largely in Molly’s remarkable journey home to her mother. A journey in which she is solely reliable on the outback teachings she learnt with her mother. which include, her ability to judge direction, where to look for food and water and how to cover her tracks. But most importantly this journey forces Molly to mature a great deal and become a leader for the two younger children she has to look after. She takes up the ‘mother’ role on the journey home with Daisy and Gracey who look to he for guidence and care.
But when Daisy decideds to catch the train to her mother of a passing traveller she feels as though losing Daisey is her fault, with the first thing she says to her mother being, “I lost one”. This shows the level of maturity Molly undergoes on the journey and bond she has with her family, feeling guilty and sad she is unable to make it whole again. The connection of families values in the texts are a major theme in identifying their heritage and where the girls feel they belong.
We get a the idea that aboriginal family is in a lot of ways stronger in the bonds they share with each other compared to many families of white society. “I found some of their attitudes to their brothers and sisters hard to understand. They didn’t seem to really like one another, and you never caught them together at school. We were just the opposite…. We felt our family was the most important thing in the world. ” followed by a comment from a fellow classmate “Aah, you lot stick together like glue. You’re right I thought, we do. ” quotes from the novel ‘My place’ in relation to Sally’s view on family.
And “I want mummy” said by Gracey when the other girls at the settlement tell of having no mothers, there bond with their family has been forgotten. These two texts with relation to each other helped in creating a better understanding of inner journey for me, I was able to easily identify with the changes the girls Sally and Molly both went through and also extend that identification out to their families who in combination with have helped voice a story of a race who suffered all odds to be present in society today, as a respected and acknowledged culture.
The series of life journey’s we are taken through in both the movie ‘ Rabbit proof fence’ and the novel ‘my place’ lead to a significant degree of changes both personally and culturally where the girls are able to discover their identity, respect there heritage but most importantly find where they belong right beside their families.
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