Requiem for a Beast (Theme and Techniques)

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Cultural heritage defines who we are as a person or society. It is a bond that ties the people of a region or community together. This is learned and passed from the elders to the new generation but to achieve this, it has to be translated into representations such as art, language and religion. Hence to force a human being to reject and change these things is subduing or taking control over their culture. This action is practically taking away their identity and forcibly changing their values. The importance of culture lies in the fact that it is a link between people and their value systems. The ‘Stolen Generation’ which refers to the generations of children that were an Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were taken from their families by the Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, under acts of their respective parliaments, is an epitome of this damaging action. This action of subduing of a culture lost was a significant theme represented in Matt Ottley’s remarkable multi modal work entitled Requiem for a beast. Ottley cleverly utilised several visual conventions, symbolic codes, and written techniques that enhanced my understanding of this theme.

A subtle but recognizable visual representation of the theme ‘subduing of a culture lost’ is on a section of the novel where there’s a photo of a young horse being ‘choked down’ a method of subduing wild horses as part of the breaking in process. Numerous references throughout the book to the tethering and subduing of wild animals are metaphorical for the perspective of the European invaders of Australia to its indigenous culture and people. One of them was the seeking of the bull as being allegorical for the elimination of Aboriginal culture which was brought into focus with a graphic sequence along the bottom of the page 64. In the boy’s hallucination, the bull’s hump becomes the aboriginal child. That visual representation along with the woman’s quote...
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