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Compare the ways the nature of racism and prejudice is presented in Bye Beautiful and American History X.

In Julia Lawrinson’s Bye Beautiful and Tony Kaye’s American History X, the authors use a range of techniques to explore the ways the nature of racism and prejudice is presented. The novel Bye Beautiful uses a variety of characters to express and represent various types of racism and prejudice, contrasting with each other. Lawrinson also uses the voice of a young female narrator, who is also a character in the film to express reactions to racism in a small community. Both similar and different techniques are used in Kaye’s American History X, which is about modern-day race hatred. Kaye uses the voice of a young male narrator to express reactions and influences made on him to racism and prejudice. Also the contrasting settings throughout the film open the opportunity for racism and prejudice to be explored in depth. Finally the use of various symbols are used to represent ideas that explore the harm racism and prejudice can cause.

Both American History X and Bye Beautiful are set around the same timeline of the late 1960’s, early 1970’s but are shown in different countries of America and Australia. This reveals the contrasts of racism and prejudice set in an era that occurs around the world. Also in both texts Lawrinson and Kaye have managed to have the connection of the hierarchy shown against men and women and how women are disrespected.

Lawrinson’s Bye Beautiful is a third person limited narration which uses a range of characters to show the influential impact people can have on others towards a racist view and how prejudice can affect choices the characters make. This is shown through characters such as Bill Read, who expresses his views, through derogatory language and disrespect towards his dead brother’s wife, Pat Read, who is part Aboriginal. These views influence the likes of the local policeman Frank Lansing causing him to make a decision to kill Billy Read, Pat’s son, for having a hidden affair with his eldest daughter and impregnating her. This murder was covered by another story made up from the police, which accuse other aboriginals from the community of committing the crime. Prejudice is revealed by a teacher at the local school who shows her lack of respect towards May Read, Pat’s daughter, by portraying a hierarchy between the other students and this one girl due to race, though it seems like little significance that the time before the race of May was known. All of these characters show different degrees of racism and how it is portrayed towards the society of a small community. This would make the reader of this novel experience the pain, loss and guilt caused by the racism and prejudice shown in a small town. Similarly, Kaye’s American History X which is a first person narration, uses this technique through a group of people formed especially to show their hatred and proud racism. This group is known as the skinhead neo-nazi. In this particular text, this group was shown in a small community but was mentioned that there were other groups portraying the same views in other towns near by, giving the impression that the racist population was bigger than what was been shown. Also, Kaye uses the father of the narrator, who is a local fireman, to show early signs of the impact of racism and prejudice when it is being influenced. This would make the viewer of this film experience pain, resentment and blame caused by racism and prejudice shown in a neo-nazi community.

Both text’s use a father figure who is highly respected in the community through there job positions to show the possibly that racism can be influenced by anyone of any nature, not just a particular group.

Both texts use the voice of a young narrator to show the influence and impacts racism and prejudice can have on innocent minds. Bye Beautiful uses Sandy Lansing, a fourteen year old girl and the youngest daughter of Frank,...
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