Use this forum to discuss the April 2018 Book of the Month, "Ironbark Hill" by Jennie Linnane
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The Aboriginal people had their homes, land, and heritage taken from them when the British colonized Australia. In fact, they didn't exactly "colonize" Australia in the traditional sense--they used it as a dumping ground for prisoners. Imagine that feeling. The land that you call home, deemed to be unworthy of anything but criminals.
Native Americans had their homes, land, and heritage taken from them when the British colonized the North American coast, and even earlier when Columbus virtually (and literally) raped the people, culture, and land of South America and the islands in the Gulf of Mexico. And all the while, history, as written by the victors, glorifies men like Columbus and John Smith, while ignoring the stories of the victims of European colonization.
I think this story would survive if it were brought to America, due to the unfortunate kinship that exists between the Aboriginal and Native American communities--the sense of diaspora and the disconnect with the world around them, which used to be theirs.
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I firmly believe, although difficult cultures, no matter the setting, Australia or America, the story would still be relatable and believable because domestic abuse and violence and the like are universally problematic and I don't think the story would change too much.
"And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life". (Revelation 20:12 (NKJV)
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As said before, Natalie being part aboriginal could still make her vulnerable to certain social and racial issues in America. However, I still think the issues she would face would be more prominent in Australia than here. It would definitely have changed much of the story if it had taken place in America rather than Australia.
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Natalie and her story even if taken out of the story (Australia) setting and put her in America today, or even anywhere in the world the story would not change: Ironbark Hill is landmark or a memorial site for the unhappy childhood of Natalie.
There are many girls today in America and around the world who have memorial sites of their unhappy childhood. In other words, the social settings are not sociologically different in terms of human feelings and emotions.
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Because of the setting used originally, I think by changing that, there would be a whole new perspective on Natalie.
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Setting can be used akin to the foundation for a house. It determines how big the house is going to be and the amount of weight that can be piled on top of it. Therefore, the setting in the story helps direct your expectation of what is going to happen with the characters. It also gives you a sense of better understanding the person and what their thoughts and actions would be in relation to the described setting.
There are so many varied cultures and ethnic differences of people all the world but based on the setting, the level of acceptance and comfort , patterns someone's behaviour or their actions.
When you are home....you have a higher comfort level and you can act and be yourself more than if you are in a country or a place where you can be subjected to more scrutiny and judgment. (Not that you would not be judged in your home setting...the extent may be less severe).
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I think setting is very important in a story. Take this character and her story and move her to America and the whole thing becomes less relatable, less believable, and less interesting.
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JLS wrote: ↑07 Apr 2018, 08:47
I could also see people in America lumping her into different groups just as a knee jerk reaction. Race is not an exact science, to be completely honest it isn't a science at all, leading people to decide she's Black, Latino, or Asian before she gets the chance to tell them her own story.
I also think where
in America her story was moved to would influence how people would react to her. If she was in a predominately rich white suburb in New England versus a predominately middle class ranching area in the mid-west, people would probably "lump her" into a different group and act accordingly.
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The setting gives a cultural and societal identification to the book. I do not think Americans would have any problem at all comprehending the book.
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I think it would also partially depend on the location in America. People of color and mixed races face greatly different levels of societal acceptance in more liberal states like California and Alaska versus, say North Dakota or somewhere in the south. America feels very strongly about race, whether positively or negatively, so either way it would still play a significant part in her life.
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Yes, I think this plot would work in America and be relatable. Fiction is about characters overcoming adversity and this country is not lacking in adversity. Race and class conflict run deep in certain parts of this country, so it could certainly work if Natalie were put in the right (or wrong) circumstances.
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The fact that it was in Australia contributed a lot to the book, not only in describing the landscape, the way in which people made their living, but also in the use of the language. The fact that she experienced the terrible prejudice because she was white/native Australian was explained in the book very well, and then how much that had to do with her very strong character in not showing emotion in some respects. It also contributed to her self worth, how she saw herself. I think many could relate to how she felt, as there is that kind of prejudice no matter where you live. I loved how the author wrote about her triumph over that part of her life. I really liked who she became and how much she cared for her family and her students.
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I think if she was in America today she would have it easier than she did in the story. However, if she was in American during the same time period that the story was written in, I think she would have the same discrimination that she faced in Australia.
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I actually forgot the story was set in Australia the majority of the time. I'd remember again when a kangaroo was casually mentioned or Natalie mentioned her aboriginal blood.
I think the story would work in a different setting, as long as Natalie's father was of a race different from the majority.
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I would think the story is less believable in a modern America setting. In this day in age, America has the welfare system and I believe Natalie's family would qualify for that. This would take away the significance of prized possessions that need to be sold for money, like Libby and sewing machine mentioned towards the end. People are also nosier today and Alex could easily be reported by a neighbor for child abuse. Of course, that could be grounds for taking Natalie away from Irma too since she is of the same household. Of course, in today's world there a bunch of websites for dating and fewer communities as small in the story where Irma would think Alex was her only choice for a second love. And for the discrimination, that's a lot more balanced in today's world. People are constantly going to court for discrimination issues, with minorities often represented by groups that will pay for the trial. It's common enough that some businesses overreact and won't fire a bad worker thinking a black person playing the minority card trumps their valid reasoning for firing the employee, in a court of law. One can still grow up with a miserable family, but I think it's lot easier to escape all the issues presented in this book in modern America. Some will no doubt persists, but I don't think the issues would be as extreme as the worst cases in this book. Of course, nothing is impossible in this everchanging world.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme” - Mark Twain. Dare we say the same thing about every story that gets told in the world?