Refugee - by Alan Sunderland

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Analytical Response – Refugee
Refugee, a novel by Alan Sunderland conveys the horrific qualities of Australia by showing us the view of a 12-year-old boy, a refugee who has to live in a detention centre for 12 months in the Australian outback. Sunderland condemns the fact that Australia has closed doors and is not letting refugees into its world. Sunderland encourages the reader to feel empathy for the plight of those seeking refuge from other countries and exhorts us to embrace an Australian Identity of acceptance. I define the concept of Australian identity as being loving, welcoming, and caring as well as the bonding of mateship and friendship. However, Alan Sunderland portrays the Australian Identity as racist, untrustworthy, and unaccepting towards refugees.

One aspect of Australian Identity explored in this novel is mistrust. When the refugees came to Australia, they were seeking freedom from the horrible past they had endured. The refugees told their stories to the immigration officials in hope of freedom, but they were not trusted and sent to a detention centre in Woomera. The repetition of “we were kept in a prison” emphasises the desperate need of the refugees who are being ignored by the Australians who refuse to let them free. We are encouraged to despise the mistrust shown and to understand their desperate situation.

Another aspect of Australian Identity shown is Racism. In this novel, when life is at its worst for the refugees in the camp, the guards and officers ordered a priest to talk to them. However, the priest could only talk to the few Afghanis who were Catholic or Christian. The authorities would not organise representatives for people of other beliefs such as Muslims or Pashtuns. The phrase “You are not allowed to see the priest. You are not Baptists or Christians so you cannot see the priest” said by the guards shows that they call the Christians “Baptists” and “Pure Ones” indicates racism and non-multiculturalism. This is written...
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