Biographies / Australian Identity In Literature

Australian Identity In Literature

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Autor:  anton  30 October 2010
Tags:  Australian,  Identity,  Literature
Words: 741   |   Pages: 3
Views: 760

"Brotherhood was never like it; friendship is not the word; but deep in that body of marching men the soul of a nation stirred" so wrote Banjo Paterson in his poem "Australia Today 1916". Australia had only been a commonwealth for one hundred and five years, yet already a strong nationalism had emerged. An Identity. The words larrikin, mateship, accent, sporting, culture and independence come to mind.

The way in which I will construct Australian Identity is through use of the autobiography of Dan Crowley, entitled “Undercover Prop”.

Dan Crowley is a Brisbane boy who had a professional career as a prop and has represented his country many times in the overseas arena. He also is an undercover cop who participated in many drug takedowns on the Gold Coast during the early 90’s.

In the book Dan Crowley vividly draws on the many discourses he had in his life, primarily those of mateship, rugby, work in the police force, and family. These intersect at many combinations throughout the book. Dan is constructed as being a rugby player from his early teens. Throughout the book Dan Crowley vividly depicts many stories of him and his mates. As he recalls, it was his mates who got him into rugby. “You’re slow, fat and have no ball skills…You’ll make an excellent prop” is a fond memory of his.

The most dominant discourse portrayed in this autobiography is mateship. This theme of mateship is first evident a few pages into the book. Dan Crowley states “In my first year at St Elizabeth’s, in grade one, I met three guys, Adam McDonald, Craig Senior, and Andrew Johnstone, and we became best of mates…We four were inseparable right through school and for a couple of years after…”.

Dan represents the Australian stereotype of being a “bloke” due to the fact that he has a great interest in sport. Playing rugby contributes more to the discourse of mateship evident in this book as displayed in many of the chapters. Dan emphasises that “To me, part of Rugby’s appeal is having a beer in the sheds with a bloke who, just 10 minutes earlier, I’d been doing my level best to smash.” Rugby has united Dan and his team and has forged many strong friendships which he still has to this day.

In the later chapters Dan draws on the impact of “professionalism” on rugby. He mentions the decline of the strong bonds of the people who play Rugby due to the fact that money got involved and has phased out room for mistakes. “Back then, before sponsorship responsibilities, codes of conduct, dieticians, training camps and video analysis, we could empty the Esky of beer that was always waiting for us after a game, then we’d get stuck into chicken wings, sausage rolls and party pies, and then we’d drink more beer. We had fun.”

Dan Crowley also had a job as a cop in his early years and his career as a cop progresses throughout the novel. Dan Crowley challenges the anti-authoritarian aspect of Australian identity by being a cop. He joined the police force not only of influence of those around him, but of his strong moral values he upholds. He draws on many discourses he has had whilst being a cop such his family life, personal life and career. Due to his job he has had many traumatising experiences such as watching a drug addict try to inject himself with heroin. Not to mention all the physical implications he has had due to his career. At one stage he was playing several games with a bone fragment in the back of his heel. He also played for 10 years with a broken shoulder and the doctors had only noticed that when he was having sharp pains and went to see them for an x-ray. He has also sacrificed his early years with his wife and family for his careers. In the final chapter of the book he states that “The early years of my life have been about me. Now I want to dedicate the rest of my life to my family and correcting the imbalance”.

Although Dan has suffered much in sport and his personal life he has put these aspects of his life on the line for the Australian Police force and always did his best whether it be on the rugby field or as a cop. That is a strong image of the true Australian identity.

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