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Deadly Unna?

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In the novel Deadly Unna?, Phillip Gwynne uses the game of Australian Rules football (AFL) and his main character to explore the discourse of racism in a small South Australian coastal community. Through Gary Black (Blacky), the narrator, the reader becomes aware of the town's racist ideology, its marginalisation of the Nunga community and is positioned to reject the racist views of the town.

From the first, the narrator, Blacky informs the reader that there are two groups who play the game of AFL; the Nungas (Aborigines) who come from the Peninsula and the Goonyas (white people) are Port residents. The game of AFL is the only means through which two groups are brought together and highlights the marginalisation of the Nunga community who, apart from the AFL games, only come into town to buy produce from Arks's shop. Consequently, the interaction between the two groups is minimal. The author positions the reader to see the division in a number of incidents involving the two groups.

Although the young men play AFL together, the white players do not consider the others as their mates. When Dumby Red saves Blacky, however Blacky is happy for the opportunity to call Dumby his mate. The town sees the Aborigines as second-class citizens, for instance, Mad Dog quite openly refers to Aborigines as "Boongs," and says, "(I) don't shake hands with Boongs" (p. 39). In addition, the Pub owner and the patrons at the Pub feel no embarrassment in making jokes at the expense of the Aborigines. "Hey", said Big Mac. 'Did ya hear the one about the boong and the priest?" (p. 161), even though some of them like Dumby's father, drink there and are well liked. Furthermore, racist comments such as 'BOONGS PISS OFF' (p. 258) are written all over the boat shed and no one bothers to get rid of such comments. These comments symbolise the town's racist ideology. The Aborigines are good enough for the football team, but not good enough to be a part of the Port community.

There can be no doubt that the marginalisation of the Nunga community has occurred as a result of the town's racist ideologies. Gwynne positions the reader to see this marginalisation through Blacky's eyes, rather than through those of the Aborigines. In this way, criticism of the marginalisation of the Aborigines is stronger because it comes from a member of the Port's white community. It is Blacky who comments that no one at the Port has been to the Peninsula and also there were very few Nungas at the celebration after winning the Premiership. He states "Actually there weren't so many Nungas at the Do. Not when ... half of the team was from the Point." (p. 119) Through Blacky, the reader is aware that it is Dumby rather than Blacky who is responsible for the team's victory. Yet the Aborigines do not get the recognition that they truly deserve. This is evident when Mark Arks (who is white) gets the Best On Ground Award, when in reality it is Dumby Red who deserves it. The racist element is foregrounded in the story, especially in the shooting of Dumby Red. Gwynne deliberately constructs Dumby



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