Deadly Unna: Goonyas and Nungas

Deadly Unna: Goonyas and Nungas

“Deadly, Unna?”

Many Australians love the game of football. As young kids we dream about the glory of winning the grand final. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you won by or what players were on the field, all that matters is that you won. But for Gary Black, winning the grand final dealt him more guilt than glory. The novel “Deadly, Unna?”, written by Phillip Gwynne, takes us on a journey of a 14 year old and his life living at the Port. Although seen as a novel solely about football, Gwynne deals with many issues facing adolescents such as racism, discrimination, abuse, values and attitudes.

The novel is written in first person narrative, seeing the world through Gary’s eyes. As he is only a fourteen-year-old boy, his perception is childlike and innocent. To him, everyone is equal to one another; goonyas are white people and nungas are Aboriginals, nothing more and nothing less. But through the eyes of the townspeople, white people are the superior race and Aboriginals should be despised. Gary’s relationship with Dumby can be seen as forbidden, as it jeopardizes the feud between both race. As we refer to Australian Rules being football and the laws of the game, in this novel it also means the rules of communication and respect. Like the boundaries and positions on the field, everyone should stay within their area, however these boundaries are somewhat biased. In the pub, Gary notices that the nungas sit at the back corner, as if restricted to only that area. The townspeople do socialize with the Aboriginals but it doesn’t mean they get along.

As readers, we are encouraged to adopt similar views as Gary in the way that he creates sympathy for certain characters and their situations. In chapters 6, 7 and 8, we get a good view of Gary’s family life. With three brothers and three sisters, their small house is overcrowded, but it is his parents that draw the attention. Gary’s father is an abusive alcoholic, who neglects his children...

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