Remembering Babylon

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To what Extent can Gemmy be regarded as Representing a Paradigm Shift in the Mind Set of the Settlers? In the novel Remembering Babylon by David Malouf, the character Gemmy causes the settlers to change their attitudes towards Australia. At first, the settlers have a very negative view of the land that they had colonised, but when Gemmy joins them he makes them realise that it is not so bad after all. He teaches them some of the things that he learned from his time living with the Aborigines. These ideas then transform the settlers’ mind set and their attitude towards Australia.

In the beginning, the settlers did not feel like they wanted to be in Australia; they thought that Scotland was much better. During the flashbacks of how George Abbott came to Australia, it shows how inferior Australia is seen. When he was told that he would go to Australia, it says “Australia. That was the word Mr Robertson had dropped into the room. The silence deepened around it, then spread” (Malouf 45). The reaction to the word Australia shows how poorly he thought of it, which is signified through the use of mood. In this passage, the mood is very surprised, but in a negative way almost as if it was unthinkable to suggest it. George Abbot later described Australia as a “...godforsaken place...” (Malouf 46). This mind set is shared by Lachlan when he moves to Australia. He thinks that “The bush – it wasn’t even a country – was of no interest...” (Malouf 49). The fact that he thought of Australia as an uncivilised land, rather than a country, displays the view that Australia is inferior to Scotland. Before the settlers had met Gemmy, their attitude towards Australia was that it was in every way inferior to the life they could have had in Scotland and they did not really want to be there.

When Gemmy had been found by the Aborigines, he adapted to their life and learned from them their views on life and nature. That is shown when he hears of the settlers coming to Australia and he...
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