An insight as to what has shaped the nations identity, past and present.
For those of us out there who have children, think about this. What has shaped your child’s morals and values? From a young age, a child’s moral code, and identity largely stems from parental figures. A great deal of your idiosyncrasies, rub off on them, and a young child can be a spitting image of his or her parents. However, many of us will notice that their innocent little child will eventually look to new sources of inspiration, to develop their very own set of beliefs. As they get older, the values they took from their parents are swept under the proverbial rug, to be overtaken by a set of beliefs which are unique to them. This being said, those “rug bound” morals will always be there as a tribute to your parental prowess.
If we consider Australia’s national identity, with respect to its unique literature, we can conclude that Australia is very much like a child. Our identity was once explicitly portrayed in a number of Australian texts. The never say die attitude of the Australian character, and the romanticized view of its harsh landscape were exhibited in numerous historical pieces of literature.
However, if we move our attention to the contemporary Australian, we see that literature no longer plays an integral role in shaping our identity. Much like the child, we have turned to new sources of inspiration to attempt to reshape our identity. One must remember that even though literature no longer plays an integral role in shaping the nations identity, the values shaped by past literature will still be a notable stroke, on the canvas which is the Australian identity.
Our national identity can be broken down into two sections, past and present. The transition from past to present, is not distinct as it occurred gradually with time.
In the past, the typical Australian was seen to live a harsh, rugged lifestyle centered around conquering the outback. Also, the Australian people very much appreciated and respected the harsh environment they lived in. These notions are consistent with pieces of literature from Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson. Patterson’s poem, “Australian Scenery” written in the early 1900’s provides a romantic view of the bush. He uses figurative language to instill a sense of awe into readers, as they begin to appreciate the beauty and harshness of nature.
The Drovers Wife, by Henry Lawson tells of the livelihood of a typical Australian woman. The story portrays values such as resilience, which consequently became a dominant part of Australia’s identity at the time.
So as the young Australia began its search for identity, literature appeared as an integral part in its development. However, like the child, Australia turned to new sources of inspiration as the transition into a contemporary Australia began.
Globalization of the country is a large factor in determining Australia’s identity in the present time. More cultural diversity provides inspiration for new aspects of our identity. Or possibly, negatively impacts the way we are viewed by other countries due to discrimination shown towards these new cultures. The result of this globalization is the migration towards more suburban areas. The typical Australian is no longer portrayed accurately by the texts outlined earlier. In fact, there is a sheer lack of texts which describe what can be known as “The Suburban Australian”.
This point is explained in detail by Donald Horne, author of the article “The Suburban Australian”. Horne states that “recognition of the essentially suburban character has been slow… It is the almost universal failure of Australian writers to realize this” Horne believes that the suburban nature of our identity is not reflected upon in literature. As “old myths have remained virulent”.
The last statement by Horne, “old myths have remained virulent” suggests that Australians today still have that sense of resilience which was established in previous times. This goes to show that Australia’s identity is very much like the child mentioned earlier. Its original identity, founded by literature, was not completely lost as we searched for new inspiration. The identity of yesteryear, shaped by literature and partially swept under the rug, will always be a part of the nations identity.
As we continue to look to new places for inspiration, our country progresses into adulthood. What lies next is uncertain. Perhaps our identity will remain unchanged. Unless of course, Australia suffers from a mid-life crisis.