Post Colonial Reading Of Poems From Watson's 'smoke Encrypted Whispers' Year 12 Literature Essay

1286 words - 6 pages

White Stucco Dreaming (WSD), Jetty Nights (JN) and The Night House (TNH) from Smoke Encrypted Whispers by Samuel Wagan Watson show a post-colonial progression of Aboriginal cultural identity from childhood to adulthood, transforming from a naïve contented perspective towards the Indigenous (Ind.) assimilation of white culture and lifestyle, to a repulsive, resentful view of assimilation, which is constructed as destructive of Aboriginal people and heritage. This is achieved through the use of figurative language, imagery and the repetition of colonial symbols representative of white lifestyle and culture.
WSD presents a naïve, satisfied childhood perspective on the Aboriginal adoption of white culture, representing it as safe, comfortable and nurturing through the use of nostalgic diction, imagery and colonial symbolism. The poem adopts a childhood point of view through nostalgic diction. This is evidenced by phrases such as ‘sprinkled in my mind / is early childhood’, as well as the prevalent use of past tense such as ‘studded’, ‘sprayed’, ‘echoed’ and ‘crawled’. The use of past tense and the reference to the author’s childhood memories in the opening lines establishes a nostalgic feel, suggesting the childhood point of view that the poem is written in. Symbols of white lifestyle and culture-white stucco houses and western food- are depicted as providing comfort and security through visual and auditory imagery. This is seen through the phrases ‘white stucco umbilical’ and ‘white stucco cocoon’. The word ‘umbilical’ is associated with the bond between a mother and child, whereby the mother provides sustenance and protection, whilst the word ‘cocoon’ evokes feelings of safety, warmth and security. This suggests that the white stucco houses built by the white settlers nurture the Aboriginal children and provide them with comfort and safety. Auditory imagery is seen through the lines ‘flirtatious melodies of ice-cream trucks / that echoed through little black minds.’ The word ‘flirtatious’ gives an appealing, inviting quality to the truck, whilst the word ‘echoed’ suggests that its melody resonated with the Aboriginal children. This implies that food introduced by white Australians is a welcome presence in their lives. Through the positive, idyllic depiction of colonial symbols, WSD conveys the idea that Indigenous children find comfort and contentment in white lifestyle and culture.
Through personification, imagery and repetition of colonial symbols, JN demonstrates a maturing perspective on assimilation through adolescence, which conveys the idea that Indigenous youth have a growing awareness of their Aboriginal heritage but remain tied to their assimilated life. The childhood point of view from WSD has matured and developed into an adolescent perspective. The line ‘we walk against our curfew’ shows that the children have become old enough to walk alone at night but are still under the control of their parents, also shown through the phr...


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