Blog 7: Patrick White

Dear Mr. White,

My name is Sarah Azzopardi and I am enrolled in an Australian Literature unit at the Australian Catholic University in Strathfield. Firstly, I would like to thank you for providing us with fantastic literature to learn and analyse. Of the wide range of works we have looked into, yours would have to be fighting for the top of the list, specifically, your short story “Down at the Dump” and here are few reasons why!

Initially, when I read this piece I was overwhelmed with the great amount of colloquial language, the vibrant image of Australian culture and the effective inclusion of dialogue. These are three elements of literature I adore. It’s interesting, the other day I read an article where an author joked that Australia had no culture, that when compared to other countries and their traditions Australia is mundane and lifeless. The disturbing thought of this stayed with me over the next few days and during this time I read your work. I thought to myself, White’s depiction of everyday life is a great depiction of Australian culture. I couldn’t put my finger on whether it was your settings, or relationships or the names of characters you chose, but I did know the piece of writing stood up for Australia. The dialogue, “I thought the beer was an excuse for comin” is just one of your examples that sum up one aspect of Australian culture.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the journey of seeing Mrs. Hogben and her sister Daise’s relationship. The constant contrast, although not always direct, created such strong characteristics for them. I interpreted Mrs. Hogben as tightly wound compared to Daise who was a free spirit. We can learn this idea through the symbolism of their opposite houses. Mrs. Hogben lived in a brick house suggesting her strong and straight cut exterior compared to Daise’s house surrounded by a vibrant garden and natural life. I thought it was ironic that although Daise was the one who died her house was more alive than her sister’s, and when you described Mrs. Hogben’s house you used words like “cool” and “dark” perhaps suggesting the lifeless nature of her. These subtle descriptions resonate within me and allow me to grasp a strong idea of each character’s purpose in your work. My lecturer put a thought in my head when he told the class what their names mean, Myrtle meaning selfish and Daise meaning innocent. Of course, the world of literature says every author strategically chooses every detail for their work, but I was wondering if you could tell me what was your primary reason for choosing these names?

Overall, this letter has only scratched the surface of all that is amazing in this piece of literature. I definitely look forward to reading more of your works to see  your various writing styles and talent! Thank you muchly.

Regards,

Sarah

 

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1 Response to Blog 7: Patrick White

  1. It was lovely to read your letter to Patrick White, and I really liked that you wrote it as a letter but also included some analysis of the story ‘Down at the Dump’. I agree with you that Australia does have its own culture – it makes me sad that this writer didn’t think so – and Patrick White captures that culture really well in his writing. He doesn’t necessarily write about the most inspirational characters, but they are real characters and that is what matters. I particularly liked what you said about the two houses and how they represented the characters of Myrtle Hogben and Daise. That wasn’t something I had picked up on my reading of it and you gave me a new appreciation of the story. It’s hard to make any criticism of your piece, especially since it is a letter and not a critical peice. I’m sure Patrick White would have appreciated reading it, had he been alive to receive it.

    Like

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