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The Old Australian Ways By Banjo Paterson

Through the representations of people in both the novel and the poem, an incomplete version of Australia is presented. The poem, ‘the old Australian ways’, first and fore mostly accomplishes this goal with the focus on the classic Australian stockman stereotype. Paterson is quoted stating in his poem “The vagabonding love of change…And we have followed field and flock/since e’er we learnt to ride…We followed where our fortunes led…And always further out”. Due to the fact that Paterson writes about field, flock (cattle or sheep) and riding (horses), it can be interpreted that he is aligning Australian people with the stockman stereotype, which he comments on as being free, as they can travel wherever they want on a whim. However, such romanticism with the ways of the Australian stockman has left problems with the Australia that the Paterson has communicated. Paterson, through his romanticism with the stockman stereotype, has completely marginalized other parts of Australian culture, such as commercialism. The poem “The Old Australian Ways” possesses the following lines “The narrow ways of English folk…so throw the weary pen aside/and let the papers rest…” Through referring to pen and paper, Paterson is stating that he is commenting on the businessman stereotype/representation, and then through claiming that this way is foreign (English), he disassociates Australia with the businessman representation. As such, through the romanticism with one part of Australian culture and the disassociation with another, the poem gives the reader an incomplete view of Australia. The novel, 48 Shades, indeed follows this trend and through its representation of people yet again gives an incomplete view of Australia. Earls describes the nature of Australian people in his book as being orientated around the following “Beer, Sex, Attitude, and Calculus”. Through focusing on these topics with his main character, Earls has created an illusion that this is the typical Australian. However, while there is a possibility that this representation is applicable to students, it fails to account for the diversity in the modern multicultural Australia. As such, both the poem and the book, through representations of people, give an incomplete presentation of Australia.

The construction of this image of an incomplete Australia is further continued in both the novel and the poem’s representation of places. Paterson achieves this through his presentation of an Outback Australia. The poem describes Australia as the following “The wind is in the barely grass,/The wattles are in bloom;/’the breezes greet us as the pass/With honey sweet perfume/The parakeets go screaming by/With flash of golden wing…Rejoicing at the Spring…”. Through Paterson’s lush reference to grass, flowers and birds flying past, he has created a representation of Australia, not as an Outback country or a metropolis, but rather as a spring paradise. While this is not an entirely false representation of Australia, it gives rise to the question of the presence of other representations of Australian country. To this however, Paterson has ignored, and instead marginalizes the other representations of places in Australia. One such example of this, is the depiction of the metropolis stereotype in Paterson’s poem in the following “The London lights are far abeam/Behind a bank of cloud…The city folk go to and fro/Behind a prison’s bars,/They never feel the breezes blow/And never see the starts…”. Paterson has commented on the metropolis stereotype in his poem by referring to it as similar to some desolate place, void of any natural beauty, much akin to a prison. In addition to this, Paterson disassociates the metropolis stereotype by relating it to London and naming it as a foreign concept. As such, through his slander and alienation of the metropolis stereotype, Paterson has marginalized this representation. Therefore, by placing focus on only one representation of places in Australia, and marginalizing the rest, the poem “The Old Australian Ways” gives an incomplete view of Australia. The same trend is followed suit yet again by the novel 48 shades. Earls describes Brisbane as “We drive under the gateway Arterial, past Toombul Shoppingtown and left on Sandgate Road” and houses in Brisbane as “The wrap-around verandas, the big mango tree in the backyard, the overgrown garden…the blue table with uneven legs”. Due to that fact that Earls notes that Brisbane includes average city instalments (eg. Highway, normal roads and shopping centres), and average houses (suitable to living but with a few problems), Earls foregrounds Brisbane, and thus places in Australia, as the average Cities/Metropolis. This is yet again however, a one sided representation, as Earls silenced any motion of rural communities and farms, which also take up a large portion of Australian ‘places’. As such, it can be concluded that both the novel and the poem, through representation of places, give us a incomplete representation of Australia.

Lastly, the events shown in both the novel and the poem yet again foreground an incomplete Australian representation. The poem “The Old Australian Ways” fashions this through its depiction of the actions of Australian people. Paterson writes on the actions of Australian people as the following “…Then you must saddle up and go/Beyond the Queensland side/Beyond the reach of rule or law,/to ride the long day through…”. As such, Paterson writes that the actions of Australian people include riding horses freely throughout the land, and as such, promote a representation of Australians as being akin to stockmen and itinerant workers, being free. However, the actions fore-grounded here yet again give an incomplete view of Australia, firstly through the fact that Paterson has silenced any sense of the commercialized Australia, and secondly through the fact that stockmen and itinerant workers were not free, but instead had to continuously work for their living, whether as leader on their own farm, or subordinate in another person’s institution. The novel yet again follows suit, with its representation of events occurring giving a incomplete image of Australia. This is seen in the following excerpt from 48 Shades “…now has champagne in one hand, wine in the other and several conversations going at once. Naomi is working on a spur-of-the-moment punch in the kitchen. Burns is gripping a beer as though it’s a mother’s hand…”. This quote presents a chaotic side of Australia, with several out of the ordinary events occurring at once, but at the same time presents a free Australia, as the tone is generally relaxed with people doing things as they wish. However, yet again, his is incomplete, as it is a complacent view on events that occur in Australia, as with other such incidents as the financial crisis taking place, it has left many Australians with trouble as they find it difficult to pay debts. As such, through events presented in both the novel and the poem, Australia has been given an incomplete representation.

Thus, through Paterson’s romanticism with the free stockman stereotype of people, the outback Australia representation of places, and the silence of any idea o a commercialized Australia, he has given an incomplete representation of Australia. This is repeated in 48 Shades through Earls’ ideology of an ‘Sex, Beer, Attitude and Calculus’ orientated Australia, the idea of Australia being a imperfect paradise, and his ignorance of real life troubles, as he yet again fails to attain a true representation of Australia. Thus, through the representation of people places events and things, both the novel and the poem present an incomplete Australia.

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