CRITICAL REVIEW: MY PLACE, SALLY MORGAN Sally Morgan’s My Place, published in 1987, is an autobiography about finding her Aboriginal roots and her identity with the focus on the lives of three generations of Australian Aborigines. Sally’s family never talked about their past and she was brought up thinking she was Indian. But she always felt different than her friends, their way of living was not the same, so her curiosity led her to realizing that she is Aborigine. And then her quest for knowledge of her past begins.
My Place is actually a novel about woman’s search to find herself and her place in Australian society. The main themes are discrimination, racism and Aboriginal culture. They are presented through two different versions of autobiographical writing. One is Sally’s first person narration, which is more Western autobiographical and it focuses more on her individual quest to find her identity. The other focuses on the Aboriginal life and more on the community and family life of Aborigines.
The novel has 32 chapters, which are divided into four parts: Sally’s narration about her early life, education, family relationship, her perception of herself and her self-discovery; Arthur Corunna’s story, he is a brother of Sally’s grandmother; her mother’s Glady’s story and her grandmother Daisy’s story. Their stories focus on their life when they lived in Aboriginal society. The whole book is a combination of narration, dialogues, descriptions, stories within stories, anecdotes, and personal reminiscences from various characters and also humour.
All that provides balance and harmony to the book. The book is easy to read, the language is quite simple, descriptions of the nature are really specific and with the use of metaphors, symbolism and personification, the reader gets a vivid picture of the place that is described. However the first part, where Sally describes her childhood is a little bit boring, because there are mostly descriptions and details about things not relevant to the theme of the book.
But when she starts to investigate her family roots with her constant attempt to get some answers from her mother and grandmother, the book becomes more interesting. The parts where her family talks about their life are very emotional, the reader gets an insight into their hard life as being black in the “white world”. Before Sally’s book, not much was known about the Aboriginal life. She writes about the contact of two different cultures, Aboriginal and Western, so we get in touch with their history, their habits, way of thinking, historical background, injustice and struggles they had to fight.
Other people always treated them as something less and because all the bad things that happened to them, they decided not to speak about it, they were forced to be silent. There are still a lot of secrets, that are not revealed in the book, because they are too afraid to speak about them, but we get to know some important information about their past from the people who wrote history on their own skin. So this is a really important book for Australian and Aboriginal culture, because it opens some important questions about racism and discrimination. ANA FURLAN
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