The Divine Wind – Q1
The Construction of Derby Boxer
In the years preceding the First World War, Australia was rife with racism, sexism, suspicion, and class prejudice. However, Broome in Australia’s north-west, was a place of notable exception. Its inhabitants of Japanese, Aboriginal and European lived in a semi-balance of equality. This relationship was needed because; only as a symbiotic society could the community develop and grow in such an isolated and remorseless environment. Gary Disher’s Book the Divine wind portrays the clash of Broome’s unconventional attitudes with that of the attitudes of that era. An important character entangled in this conflict is Derby Boxer. He is an Aborigine and thus is subjected to the notorious racism of that time. Disher constructs him so these opposing views have a focal point so they are vocalised and expressed. Derby Boxer is constructed to defy the stereotypes of the 1940’s. Lester Webb is a white, affluent, pastoralist whose views on the aborigines were typical of his class. He is quoted as saying; in an aboriginals ‘native state he’s quite resourceful, but does he ever carry that through to something bigger or better? No.’ (pg 73).Derby Boxer actions show that this statement is quite contrary to reality. Derby Boxer ‘when he was thirteen had run away from the Pallotine mission to find his father’s people, tribal blacks on Hartog Downs, a sheep and cattle station... He was so struck by the horsemanship of the stockmen that he applied for a job... Eventually he was promoted to head stockmen.’(14-15pg) From this example we are positioned to view Lester as a racist, whose views on aborigines were unfounded. Through out the novel it was apparent that Gary Disher believed that the majority of pastoralists thought in this way. Thus he is making a cultural assumption. Structurally Gary Disher built the character Derby Boxer using three different conduits . The first conduit is Hartley who introduces the reader to...
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