1.No Sugar challenges the prejudiced, negative stereotypes of Aborigines operating in a mainstream Australian society. Despite the Mullimurras' problems, they survive as a family with resourcefulness and dignity. Discuss this statement in relation to your reading of the play.
The 1920s and 30s was a time of deep prejudice against the Aboriginals. They were put through an experiment by the Chief Protector of Aboriginals at that time, Mr. Neville who was trying to "breed out the Aboriginals for their best purposes". Aboriginals were taken from their home land - they were displaced from their homes and taken to white settlements. In No Sugar, Jack Davis introduces the Millumurra family who reside in Northam and were then moved to the Moore River Native Settlement. No Sugar is a play that is hard-hitting and realistic. As the sergeant says in Act One Scene Two, "I know exactly what they're like" - the mindset of people who tend to label others into stereotypes. Jack Davis has thus chosen not to construct realistically perfect characters, but characters which instead fit - and challenge - some white stereotypes of Aboriginality. Gran represents the pre-colonial matriarch, the educator who ensures the continuation of the
However, the reader upon reflection realises that in almost every dialogue between the Mullimurras and the whites, humour is used to create meaning. In contrast to this bitter truth, it softens the tone by placing the audience in the shoes of an Aboriginal family and displays how this family does not emerge victor - but come to a quiet, dignified understanding and acceptance of their plight. This is accomplished in Act One Scene Three as the drunken Jimmy reveals the injustices he has suffered to his friend Frank. They were given the choice to either assimilate and die out, or live in a white society. Jack Davis, through juxtaposition of the artificial poumpous white nature in those times and the Aboriginal culture of living off the land and spiritual living has shown the audience that not all is as it seems - not everyone can be labelled under a certain stereotype and certainly, despite your conditions, no matter how hard it seems, there is always a way to live on. Language is the symbolism of their culture, and their split language symbolises how the Nyoongahs are divided between dependence on white necessities and a desire for black independence and resourcefulness.
The Mullimurras in that time were like the typical Aboriginal family - they had no claim to land, no ownership, and were continually exploited by the whites. You're scared at what he'll do when he gets out. Resourcefulness is displayed by how they catch their own food, how in Act One Scene Seven Joe and Sam goes down to the dump to find "tin for the roof" and especially how in Act Three Joe and Mary work for their own keep in order to keep a low profile and to outwardly show that they do not need to depend on the Whites for a living. In this same scene, Gran scolds Jimmy for swearing, further challenging the stereotype of Aboriginals as crude. All these shows the Mullimurras to live in a time where they are being oppressed yet they still rise above their problems to survive as a family.