Dear Australia by Don Bemrose
In Dear Australia by Don Bemrose we have the theme of regret, guilt, identity, letting go, pride and love. Narrated in the first person, by way of an epistolary narrative, by Bemrose himself the reader realizes from the beginning of the story that Bemrose may be exploring the theme of regret. Bemrose finds it difficult to let go of the fact that Australia has been ‘claimed’ by white colonizers. Something that is easy to understand when one looks at the position Aboriginal people in Australia have been placed in. They have been treated as inferior and in many ways forgotten about, despite the passing of various laws which Bemrose thinks are insignificant. If anything Bemrose may be suggesting that Aboriginal people have been made to feel guilty about what is rightly theirs. They after all where in Australia long before Captain Cook arrived in 1788 and have been mistreated ever since. Often Aboriginal people have been pigeon holed into boxes that suggest they are troublesome and at fault for the wrongs of Australia.
The theme of identity is evident throughout the story. Bemrose identities as being Aboriginal though does apologize for being middle-coloured. He is proud of his heritage and is not prepared to let it go nor should he let it go of his heritage even if he apologizes for being a non-typical Aboriginal person (if there is such a thing). There is a sense that Bemrose is being apologetic because it is expected of him. He is expected to be grateful to Australia, white Australia, for the position he finds himself in. However this is not something that sits well with Bemrose. He is not prepared to let go of the injustices he feels he and Aboriginal people have encountered over time. If anything Bemrose is apologizing for making a success out of his life despite the circumstances he found himself in.
Circumstances that began at an early age when classmates asked Bemrose what he was due to him looking different to the white children in school. This may be significant as if the reader takes Bemrose as being a sample of how Aboriginal people may have been treated it is easy to see why Bemrose might feel disgruntled. From an early age he has had to deal with adversity no matter how innocent it might appear. This could be the point that Bemrose is making. He may be suggesting that white Australia from Cook to the present has viewed Aboriginal people in a disapproving way. Believing that white Australia is the real Australia. Something which is simply untrue.
The end of the story is interesting as despite how Aboriginal people have been treated. Bemrose still loves Australia. Not necessarily white Australia but there is a love for the country and its land nonetheless. Something that has not been taken away from Bemrose. He is not bitter about the circumstances he has encountered over the duration of his life. If anything Bemrose has done more than most people can ever dream of. He is successful in his operatic career. Has his own home and has not forgotten his roots. Throughout the story Bemrose has held a mirror up to white Australia and asked for it to have a look at itself. This may be too difficult for some to do but the reader feels as though Bemrose is the one who is most comfortable in his skin. Despite all that has happened Aboriginal people.