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 No Sugar Essay : Challenging our Values
 No Sugar Essay 8: Challenging our Values

Essay 8

Topic: Plays can influence our view of life as they often challenge our values, encouraging us to respond to a particular issue. To what extent do you agree?

Context: This essay was completed under test conditions during a class period of 50 minutes during term two at the conclusion of a study of the play. The student had no prior knowledge of the topic.

1 By challenging my values, plays can influence my view of life and encourage me to respond to certain issues in a particular way. No Sugar, an Australian play written by Jack Davis, an Aboriginal Australian, challenged my values towards Aboriginals and issues such as the treatment of our indigenous people today and between the years 1929-34. I was encouraged to respond to Aboriginal people in a positive way.

2 Jack Davis in his play No Sugar highlights the appalling conditions in which Aboriginals lived throughout the depression (“Haven’t got any soap yet. I’m afraid soap is no longer included as a ration item?”) due to the ignorance and racist attitudes of the white Australians. This influenced the way in which I now view Aborigines. By viewing Davis’ play I am more understanding of Aborigines and sympathetic towards them as the stage drama provided me with an opportunity to see what seemed to be a realistic portrayal of the daily lives and hardships of these people, especially the older generations of indigenous Australians. By comparing how I live to how the characters in the play live, I realise I am extremely lucky; such necessities as soap that I take for granted, they lived without, and ironically their “protectors” saw this item as a luxury, yet condemned them for an unwarranted judgement of an absence of cleanliness.

3 Davis portrays and constructs all of the Aboriginal characters (except Billy) in a positive way. I as the audience was encouraged to sympathise with the Aboriginal characters, and adopt a negative attitude towards such characters as Neville and the sergeant. These two white characters along with a host of others treated the Aboriginal characters with very little or no respect. This highlights the ignorance of white Australians and made me feel ashamed to be white. ‘The native’s entrance is around the back’. Racism was an issue Davis raised in No Sugar. Here my values towards white Australians in positions of authority were challenged. Neville, a real person, transformed into a character in Davis’ play is particularly highlighted as being a corrupt person in a position of authority.

4 In Australia I have found many white Australians do not think of Aborigines as human beings. As the text itself points out, the original inhabitants of Australia were for many years classified as part of the “wildlife” of this continent. Even today, in what is supposed to be an accepting and multicultural society, I am continually bombarded with stereotypes of Aboriginals which I know many people adopt. Davis, through the use of characters such as Gran with her humour and Jimmy with his determination, has made me realise we as humans are still the same. Whilst viewing No Sugar I couldn’t help but sympathise with and laugh at Gran’s witty humour “You don’t want to shout like that, sergeant. You’ll have a fit, just like a dingo when he gets a bait”. Davis challenges my views of indigenous people and makes me see them as individual human beings with personalities and talents, not as stereotypes.

5 Davis in No Sugar brings up the issue of the white Australia policy in particular assimilation. In the exposition, David and Cissie play cricket with a home made bat and ball. In this scene the audience cannot help but notice the irony of two Aboriginal children playing a white man’s game. Before viewing No Sugar I was unaware of the extent to which white Australians influenced Aborigines. Also, Davis creates Billy, an Aboriginal tracker working for white people. The irony of an Aboriginal man acting against another Aborigines showed me just how much whites have influenced Aborigines and the extent to which Aborigines had to demean themselves in order to have any chance of survival.

6 No Sugar is a play which raises many issues related to the treatment of Aborigines during the depression but which also still exist today. No Sugar influenced the way in which I view Aborigines by allowing me to be more understanding of them. Also I now realise how lucky I am and the ignorance of whites towards our indigenous people. By viewing plays such as No Sugar, with its entertaining and informative blend of humour, history and condemnation of injustice, hopefully we can become a more tolerant, understanding nation in the future and open our eyes to the injustices of the past.

Essay Eight: Comments
This essay is thought to be the truest “borderline” A/B essay in the booklet. In some ways it is a little simplistic, possibly even patronising at times, but it is generally well structured and certainly focused on the question. As a timed essay it displays good control of paragraphing and quite sound sentence structure along with a fine grasp of the text and the concepts of the syllabus.
One aspect of this essay which is disappointing is the apparent equating of first person pronouns with a “sense of personal voice” requested over the last few years by TEE markers. In order to achieve this sense of personal voice, students need to write convincingly, to make it evident that they actually believe what they are writing and to demonstrate a credible level of their own engagement with the question and the texts as distinct from simply offering a summary of what has been ‘taught’ in class. By the end of this essay, it is clear that this student has his/her own thoughts on the topic and the text, which is a positive aspect of the response, however, the “I” and “my” intrusions do become annoying and result in a style which is rather cloying – probably not the effect intended by the writer. The many first person pronouns could easily have been omitted, and this would have resulted in a more sophisticated, convincing argument with a more believable sense of a personal voice. It is interesting to compare the approach of this essay with that of Essay 12, which was written by the same student. In essay 12, which was awarded a higher mark, there are no first person pronouns, and yet a very fluent, convincing essay is constructed.
In each paragraph, the writer of this essay draws attention to particular aspects of the text, particularly characterisation, to show the means by which a text can influence our view of life, and the concluding sentences attempt to relate these techniques to specific ideas which the text encourages.

Throughout the essay, a little more direct focus on values would be beneficial, and would certainly move the essay into the “A” range. While the writer of the essay does draw our attention to audience responses being shaped, there could be a stronger emphasis on the particular values which are challenged.

Essay 8 :

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