Home – Lahrissa Behrendt

02/01/2011 at 5:52 AM (Australian Literature, Books, Nostalgia, Politics, Short Stories) (, , , , , , )

Larissa Behrendt is a Eualeyai and Kamillaroi woman who decided to become a lawyer at the tender age of eleven when her Indigenous father found his mother’s removal certificate. This poignant and touching story titled Home about Garibooli, a naive young Aboriginal girl who is displaced from her society to an alien Western world, tells us subtly how advantage is taken of her childhood innocence.

Aboriginal art

Copyright: Mudjile Mime

Garibooli, after being taken from her people is put to work in the mansion of the Howard family under the name, Elizabeth . The domestic servitude encumbered upon her during her youth is exploitation enough but worse follows when Mr. Howard begins to pay her flattering attention. Her ignorance and lack of education makes the resulting consequences ultimately tragic.

The story is interspersed with comparisons of Indigenous traditions and Western culture. Highlighted is the friendship between Xiao-ying Chan (Helen Chan to white people) and Garibooli (Elizabeth to white people), her cordial relationship between the strict but kindly housekeeper Miss Grainger and the perpetual annoyance of Mrs Howard when she tries her best striving to get praise for a job well done. Imposition of barriers created by the inability to communicate is well articulated within this tale. The author neatly ties in the impact inflicted on Garibooli by the separation from her family through indicating her conflicting desire to please the Howard household while showing her discontent through nostalgic, contemplative reflections.

The story appears to indirectly comment on the plight segregation had forced on the protagonist since in Australia, similar conditions were faced by many other young Aboriginal girls when oppression against the indigenous people were rife. Prejudice held against this native community has lessened considerably with the passage of time and the public apology but politics and the current legal system still has a big part to play in improving conditions for our indigenous citizens. If you did not know about the Stolen Generations, you might find some enlightening information within this fact sheet.


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The Story of Danny Dunn

11/28/2010 at 11:38 AM (Books, Inspired, War) (, , , )

The Story of Danny Dunn

This is a sad but beautiful story of determination and perseverance about the life of Danny Dunn. His dreams of becoming a pro athlete dashed after a very foolhardy and  rash decision to enlist in World War I by dropping out of university , he does his best to cultivate the sporting abilities of his twin daughters. This is no easy task because one of the twins realises her talent lies in folk music unlike the other sister who  trains to be an Olympic level swimmer in accordance to Danny’s wishes.

Unfortunately Danny’s political ambitions and support of Dawn Fraser impose upon the sporting daughter’s qualifying to compete and a last minute illness during the swimming finals leads to the blossoming of an unsavoury relationship with tragic consequences.

Ultimately Danny realises he was pursuing his own dreams through his daughters and comes to terms with his other daughter following her own.

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