Identity in the Novel Deadly Unna
How does Blacky’s identity change with the death of Dumby Red? The novel Deadly Unna by Phillip Gwyne, addresses many issues including racism and identity. This book provides the opportunity to look at how friendship can change the way people view themselves and others throughout. Deadly Unna the main character, Blacky confronts issues such as racism, conformity and identity as part of growing up as a teenager in the port.
Before Blacky became friends with Dumby, he went along with the crowd and conformed to the way the rest of the Port operated.
Blacky is portrayed as a boy who doesn’t like to get in peoples way. He has different views about the Aborigines’, than the people in the port, but feels as if he has to conform to the way everyone else thinks to fit in. When Blacky and Dumby meet for the first time he automatically labels him as a ‘Nunga’ and jumps straight to conclusions about him because that is the way he has been brought up. His dad calls him a ‘gutless wonder which doesn’t really help his confidence and courage to stand up for what he believes in.
However when Blacky gets to know Dumby, he is drawn to how confident and sure he is of himself. Blacky is jealous at first of how confident Dumby is and his ‘killer smile’. The people in the port have many racist beliefs toward Aborigines’. Even though Dumby was the best player, Arks still put Mark Arks at the top of the team list. ‘Top of the list was Mark Arks. The next name down was Dumby Red’s. ’ Most rumors come from the front pub. They are stories people have of what they think Aboriginals are like (e. g. the point sign full of bullet holes).
The Aboriginals get treated unjustly in the community and the only time they are represented is when everyone comes together for the footy matches. When Dumby saves Blacky from the Thumper, Blacky really starts to like Dumby, but he doesn’t show it because he thinks he has to conform to what everyone else thinks ‘So I stopped hating Dumby’s guts. Except I still acted like I did. I was used to it, I suppose. It was easier to stay like that. ’ Blacky and Dumby become friends, and Blacky realizes the divide between the races is worse than what he originally thought.
After Dumby dies Blacky decides to take action. He is fed up with the injustice in the town. He becomes confident enough about his identity not to conform and starts to stand up for what is right. An example of this is when he gathers all his siblings and goes to the bridge to get rid of the ‘BOONGS PISS OFF’ graffiti. This is a powerful moment in the story because it shows how Blacky is finally opening up and taking action on something he believes is wrong. He stops conforming to every ones’ views and attends Dumby’s funeral against what his father says.
He realises what the Point is really like and that the Aboriginals are really nice normal people. Blacky wants to do something about the towns racist views, and feels uncomfortable to be part of it. By the end of the novel Blacky has faced very real problems such as conformity, racism and identity and has overcome major obstacles as part of growing up. Blacky becomes more confident and sure of who he is. Dumby changed his way of thinking, but Blacky took the action and started to believe in himself and have the courage fight for his beliefs.