Resilience and Adaptability
Resilience and Adaptability pervade Jane Harrison’s “Rainbow’s End,” braided through the storyline rather than directly addressed. Hence, we’ll examine different parts of the text to paint a detailed understanding of this theme.
The resilience and adaptability of characters surface as they deal with the aftermath of a flood. The opening scene serves to underline this theme, featuring Gladys observing their flood-damaged home. Despite the mud and ruin, the family’s spirit remains unbroken. They showcase their ability to endure and rebuild amidst natural disasters and recurring social drawbacks. A gesture as simple as Nan Dear offering Dolly “a cup of billy tea” conveys more than just survival—it signals a comforting cling to tradition in a chaotic setting.
Resilience and adaptability are further demonstrated through the characters’ resistance to societal prejudices and biased policies. They showcase their adaptability when subject to the dishonor of their improvised homes being demolished— “From riverbank humpy to white house is quite a step.” Here, the ‘white house’ symbolizes obligatory assimilation, which the family adapts to while preserving their cultural identity despite their shifting physical surroundings.
Their resilience is put to the test when confronting deep-seated colonial mindsets. This is evident in Nan Dear’s firm proclamation to Gladys, “She’s not my queen”, defying the imposition of British rule and societal norms.
In conclusion, the characters in “Rainbow’s End,” through their actions and utterances, embody resilience and adaptability. Faced with an array of challenges—natural or societal—they remain unflagging in their determination to safeguard their cultural heritage and self-respect. Thus, these themes not only illustrate the characters’ narratives but also resonate with the broader experiences of Aboriginal communities in Australia.
Social Mobility and Economic Challenges
“Rainbow’s End” by Jane Harrison tactfully illuminates the theme of Social Mobility and Economic Challenges by emphasizing the hurdles faced by the Aboriginal characters in their pursuit of better opportunities. Their socioeconomic status is intertwined with racial discrimination, reflecting in their living conditions and the restricted pathways for social mobility.
Gladys is a character who encapsulates the struggle for upward mobility. She echoes the dreams and frustrations of her community, advocating for self-ruling and education as the stepping stones to economic progress. In her outlined demands representing both individual and common quests for advancement, she echoes, “‘We demand the right to make our own decisions and not be at the whim of government at the mercy of Protection Boards at the vagary of landlords and property owners’” (p. 3). This effectively captures the longing for autonomy and liberation from systemic economic shackles.
Gladys’s subsequent emphasis on educational opportunities accents this theme, portraying education as a route to socioeconomic enhancement: “‘We want jobs in town for our sons and daughters. We want them to go to universities'” (p. 3). This statement reflects not only the chase after employment but also the drive for tertiary education and social upliftment, challenging the dominant culture’s narrative that questions their ability to learn and thrive: “‘They say we can’t learn but we can. We can do anything once we set our minds to it eh?'” (p. 3). This affirmation of potential and resolve directly challenges racist stereotypes that hinder social mobility and economic self-reliance.
These sentiments demonstrate the clear comprehension of the socioeconomic confinement constructed by the interplay of overt racial discrimination and systemic economic oppression. The Aboriginal characters’ struggle for equality is synonymous with their demand to be recognised and accorded the same respect as anyone else – by government institutions, community organizations, and within daily interactions: “‘We the undersigned demand to be the equal of anyone. And we will fight for that right. And keep fighting. Until we are treated right. By our neighbours and employers. By the Shire by the Crown…'” (p. 3). This continual fight for social justice and economic parity highlights that these hurdles are collective ones, faced by the entire community.
Therefore, “Rainbow’s End” successfully captures the complexity of economic challenges and societal barriers-through the determined voices and actions of its characters – which the Aboriginal people had to navigate while also spotlighting their unwavering resilience and the enduring aspiration for a more egalitarian future.