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Summer of 17th Doll Review

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Year 12 Literature SAC

Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll

The play “Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll” is a mixture of people’s inability to grow up and let go of dreams, in a typical Australian atmosphere in the nineteen fifties. Ray Lawler focuses on showing the characters finally waking up to their lives and realizing they don’t live in “heaven, “ within in a simple plot. These techniques allow readers to connect and understand the disillusionment suffered by these Australian’s in this time.

Our setting for “Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll’ is a Melbourne suburb, Carlton. Australia in the fifties had just began massive social and economical development. During the war Australia had relied on the United States of America for support, meaning now in post war Australia’s main partners had swapped from United Kingdom to them. With their support came their influence. Australian’s some-what simpler, laid back lifestyle was being altered. A new unstable Australia full of uncertainty in social values and morals had evolved. “Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll’ questions the previous Australian dream and asks f it can survive in the new country evolving. Carlton “a now scruffy but once fashionable suburb of Melbourne” was an industrial, working class area. Our characters find themselves in the working class status.

Ray Lawler uses a group of friend’s, lovers, to show the catalysts of change evolving around Australia at the time. For seventeen years Roo and Barney had been traveling down from Queensland for they layoff season. Waiting for them were their “girlfriends” Olive and Nancy. These four characters each represent a key theme in the play. The ability to link them all together and show their enchanted world crumbling around them is what makes the play one of Australia’s finest.

Roo and Barney are the typical Australian larrikins. They rare the representation of mate ship and freedom in Australia are known for. In the play their relationship acts as one of the first things to fall in their “paradise.” Roo’s position as head cane cutter was taken by Dowd. Roo finds his masculinity diminished. As most larrikins he can’t accept the fact he is not one of the best. Roo leaves early. To add to the reality of things, we learn Barney’s “girlfriend” Nancy has gone at got married. Their world begins to fall.

It is Nancy’s marriage that plays a key role in forcing the group to grow up and face reality. She is the first of them to realize she is too old, and can’t go on living in a fantasy world for five months of the year. Nancy wakes up and sees Barney has no desire to ever marry her. In this time if women never got married she was labeled a spinster. Nancy didn’t want to be stereotyped in that category. She will no longer wait around for Barney like Olive does for Roo. Her marriage forms a break in the continuing prolonged dream they all find themselves in.

Audience learns early on Olive is more of a child then a woman. She is desperately trying to hang onto her past; she wants to remain stagnant in her imaginary world. It is in here we see the scrambling efforts to remain youthful suffered by the entire group. Olive’s only hope of this is to continue her “ritual romance” with Roo. So as any desperate women would do, she attempts to replace Nancy with Pearl. This act displays Olive’s true state of mind towards they lay off-season. She needs it to survive. As a barmaid she is already looked down on as it was an unrespectable job, but she keeps her self-esteem and belief in her self up by telling everyone about Roo and the times they have. This imaginary world is what she lives for, and she doesn’t care what she had to do to keep it as long as it remains the same.

With the attempt to replace

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