Australian Cultural Code in Jasper Jones
The author, Craig Silvey, mingles the story with situations arising from the ongoing war in Vietnam without ignoring the Aboriginal agitation for equality. His effort to bring out the struggles the community faces in terms of discrimination and inability to conform is manifested across the Jasper Jones story. While the text is not a comprehensive summary of the Australian struggles with discrimination in the era, it sheds sufficient light on the matter. It has been touted as a good read by numerous academicians who study the issue.Jasper Jones ideas heavily draw from popular opinions from Australians in the 1960s. Silvey talks of multiple racism encounters in the text. A good example is the story of Jasper Jones and Jeffrey Lu. Jeffrey is an Australian Vietnamese. Despite his intellect, he has to endure constant jests at school. He endures bullies, taunting, and other forms of mistreatment from schoolmates no matter what he does to fit in. The fact that he is just a victim of his race is shown when he receives cheers and approval when he is in ‘disguise.’ For instance, when in full cricket regalia, no one can notice Jeffrey and the crowd’s cheer or admire his skill in the field. Removing his helmet reveals his Vietnam roots leading to threats, insults, and even physical confrontation. Jasper Jones sympathizes with his friend Jeffrey since he is also a victim of the same oppression. He is the town’s Aboriginal scapegoat. The residents have labeled him a thief, thug, and truant, who is never up to any good. This reputation always earns him mistreatment in his hometown even though it has no basis. Jasper is disregarded to the extent that he is the example children are threatened with if they start slacking off. Silvey uses these two characters to show us how discrimination in Australia was as long as you were a minority. Charlie, on the other hand, is Lu’s only friend. Even though he is a ‘typical’ Australian, he is still alienated because of his intellect. Instead of playing like his fellow students, he spends time reading books and gathering knowledge. This makes him different, making people at war with him despite his origins, unlike Jeffrey.Silvey uses real-time events to make us feel like the fictional Corrigan town is real. This is a great way to help us tie all the racism events happening in the novel to real life. For instance, Silvey ensures that the main events in the story happen on dates that can be matched with the well-known Vietnamese war. As the war is at its peak, three men from the town join the army. This superimposed on the Aboriginal rights agitation that occurred in 1965 helps us place the story better. Also, his choice to make characters like Jeffrey Lu, a victim at the time when the majority of Australia was against Vietnam, is a good way to tie the story to real life. Some Australians even think he is a spy. Silvey further taps into the White Australian policy that remained active until 1965 to paint the rift. This works well since the treaty does not technically cover Jasper and Jeffrey. By weaving a tell that spans reality and fiction, Silvey ensures that we pay attention and still remember that the story is about real-life issues affecting a realistic society even without mentioning prominent characters in the society.Silvery ensures that the novel uses dialog to show us more about the Aboriginal plight. Other than using Jasper and his friend to highlight the Vietnam war, Silvey also uses Jasper dialog to show us Aboriginals don’t have access to mainstream education. For instance, Jasper uses an Aboriginal English slang in his communication. Contrasting Jasper against Charlie is a good way for Silvey to show us the rift. Jones knows that Charlie is a clever boy. His acknowledgment, to some extent, shows that he understands his shortcomings. Jones, however, does not believe that they should be a basis for all the bullying he receives. For instance, Warwick Trent still picks on Charlie whenever he uses complex words in class. This is the same bully who is at war with Jasper Jones when he uses his abridgments when speaking. This imagery leads us to believe that the racism and discrimination going on was against a minority that the majority felt did not belong. It did not matter what makes you different. The people were scared of your uniqueness and were will to do anything they can to get rid of it.Silvey manages to develop a range of supporting characters who work in tandem with Jasper to tell the story of stereotyping. Language, diction, symbolism, and imagery plays a vital role in making the novel enjoyable while superimposing events with real-life occurrences jolts us back to reality. The author spins a fun tale while still reminding us that Australia is still struggling with racism and xenophobia. The fact that Silvey chooses Jones to be the center of the story gives the tools the novel needs to develop the theme in a relatable way. We end up learning more about the discrimination in the society in a fun way and end up thinking deeply about our role and any of the things we might be doing to propagate it in our lifetime.