Jack Davis’ 1986 play No Sugar is a realist drama which examines the trials, tribulations and eventual survival of Millimurra-Munday family through the Great Depression as they are forcibly removed from their homeland in Northam to Moore River Native Settlement. The survival of their culture is dependant on the way that individuals shape their identity and in this play Davis shows how family is the cornerstone on which identity can be maintained even in the most traumatic of circumstances.
Jimmy Munday survives and thrives as an individual because he has the support of his extended family. He finds his identity within his family and this security allows him to critically assess and comment on the motives behind government decisions such as the moving of Indigenous people from the Government Well Aboriginal Reserve in Northam to Moore River. ‘Whole town knows why we’re goin’. ‘Coz wetjalas in this town don’t want us ‘ere’ (p.50). Jimmy’s identity and survival are built on outward protest but other members of his family find more subtle forms of protest.
Gran Munday is the matriarch and cornerstone of her family. She refuses to assimilate into the Indigenous identity determined by ‘white’ people. She looks after her family providing them with a sense of cultural and practical knowledge as is demonstated when she delivers Mary’s baby (p.102). Although Gran is a survivor who passes on knowledge and language to her children and grandchildren, Billy Kimberley is an example of someone who has lost his family and sense of identity..
Being the last of his tribe and people, Billy Kimberley has no family, or extended family and can be seen to be culturally caught between two worlds and lacking a true sense of identity. It is dramatically ironic that he is a ‘successful’ prototype of assimilation yet is rejected by both ‘white’ and Indigenous societies. The children even mock him and call him a traitor or ‘black crow’ (p.90) Ultimately, Jimmy’s line will die out...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document