Walkabout Essay

2340 words - 9 pages

Walkabout

This story is about two children who are stranded in the Australian
outback after a plane crash. By chance they meet an Aborigine boy who
is on his walkabout. From these two different groups of people meeting
each other, it shows the reader how much people can learn from others
and how different we all are.

Mary’s first inclination is to mother Peter. She feels responsible for
him and he depends on her. But she feels inadequate in this new
environment. ‘Always she had protected Peter, had smoothed things out
and made them easy for him – molly-coddled him like an anxious hen,
her father had once said. But how could she protect him now?’ Then the
bush boy comes across their path and things become tense between the
children and aborigine.

The very first thing Mary notices about the Aborigine is that he is
very black and naked. She finds this very disturbing, ‘The thing that
she couldn’t accept, the thing that seemed to her shockingly and
indecently wrong, was the fact that the boy was naked.’ As the two
cultures confront each other they just stare at each other in
disbelief and wonder, ‘Between them the distance was less than the
spread of an outstretched arm, but more than a hundred thousand
years.’

‘They had climbed a long way up the ladder of progress; they had
climbed so far, in fact, that they had forgotten how their climb had
started’ They had had everything provided for them and had never had
to fend for themselves. ‘It was very different with the Aboriginal way
of life. He knew what reality was. Their lives were unbelievably
simple compared to the aborigine. They had no homes, no crops, no
clothes, no possessions. The few things they had they shared: food and
wives; children and laughter; tears, hunger and thirst.’ Their whole
lives are a battle against death. Death being the spirit of death,
‘Keeping him at bay was the Aboriginals’ fulltime job.’ This seems
very strange to us and was certainly something Mary and Peter did not
understand. This misunderstanding plays a significant part in the
story.

So as they eye each other up, they are coming from opposite ends of
the cultural spectrum. He had never seen white people before, his eyes
moves slowly, methodically from one to another; examining then from
head to foot’. Then tension between them is broken by Peter sneezing
twice very loudly. The Aborigine boy bursts out laughing. Peter starts
laughing too and they have at last established some common ground
between them. ‘The barrier of twenty thousand years vanished in the
twinkling of an eye.’ They then begin to try and communicate with each
other, each trying to speak in their own language. Peter uses the word
‘darkie’ to describe the bush boy, which is the only way he knows to
describe him, but seems very racist to us now. The bush boy touches
his white face and hair thinking it might be the result of powdered
clay or face paints. This is because Aborigines paint themselves...

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