Due to the unpleasant past between White Australians, indigenous Australians and Japanese people, there have long been tensions between these racial groups. These were intensified by the fear and threat of invasion during World War II. In the novel, The Divine Wind, Garry Disher presents readers with a confronting account of prejudice and fear during this time. This is evident through Disher’s representation of the harsh treatment of aborigines and Japanese; furthermore, it is illustrated that everyone is capable of possessing prejudicial views through Disher’s variation of characters.
There are several incidences in the novel where Disher exposes the harsh conduct toward aborigines. One circumstance is when Hart mentions the normality of station masters abusing and mistreating the black stockmen. ‘by forcing recalcitrant black stockmen to dress in women’s clothing’ … ‘docking their pay’… ‘chaining them down on a corrugated iron roof’ (pg. 70). Disher also brings to light the fact that aboriginal women were referred to as ‘black velvet’ and were offered as prostitutes for visitors on stations. He does this through Hart’s character: ‘He [Carl] didn’t lay on black velvet in the visitors’ quarters (pg. 70)’. Prejudice against aboriginals is also highlighted when Morrissey, an Army Officer visits Hartog Downs with a purpose of sharing his opinions on aborigines. ‘”the Abos are going to be a liability if the Japs land… He’ll guide the Japs through the bush in exchange for grog and tobacco”’ (pg. 77). Many white Australians at the time held similar views due to the paranoia they developed from the war. They were also in support of the White Australia Policy, a policy that was legislated in 1901 and marked the beginning of what we call ‘The Stolen Generation’. This is also referred to in the novel where Hart talks about Bernadette (the housemaid’s) childhood: ‘She’d been separated from her family when she was little and raised and educated at the Broome convent...
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