An essay of the themes and issues underlying No Sugar

1. No Sugar challenges the prejudiced, negative stereotypes of Aborigines operating in a mainstream Australian society. Despite the Mullimurras’ problems, they survive as a family with resourcefulness and dignity. Discuss this statement in relation to your reading of the play. The 1920s and 30s was a time of deep prejudice against the Aboriginals. They were put through an experiment by the Chief Protector of Aboriginals at that time, Mr. Neville who was trying to “breed out the Aboriginals for their best purposes”. Aboriginals were taken from their home land – they were displaced from their homes and taken to white settlements. In No Sugar, Jack Davis introduces the Millumurra family who reside in Northam and were then moved to the Moore River Native Settlement. No Sugar is a play that is hard-hitting and realistic. As the sergeant says in Act One Scene Two, “I know exactly what they’re like” – the mindset of people who tend to label others into stereotypes. Jack Davis has thus chosen not to construct realistically perfect characters, but characters which instead fit – and challenge – some white stereotypes of Aboriginality. Gran represents the pre-colonial matriarch, the educator who ensures the continuation of the Nyoongah cultural traditions. She is characterised as fiery, and sometimes stubborn- for example how she refuses to leave her dog “Wow Wow” when the Aboriginals were forced to move to Moore River Native Settlement. Her stubborn and yet wise attitude throughout the play in some ways represent Aboriginality as a whole, which has not been destroyed despite white attempts to do so. However, at the end of the play, Gran’s song laments the loss of pure Aboriginality, in favour of a blend of all their peoples, forced to make their way on white terms. Her understanding and acceptance of this fact – in contrast with the white rigid attitude towards the Aboriginals – place the Mullimurras in a dignifie…

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