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Text Response Essay

The One Day of the Year

“In Alan Seymour’s play The One Day of the Year Wacka is the only character with whom we have sympathy discuss” Discuss.

The play The One Day of the Year by Alan Seymour is strongly focused on different ways ANZAC day can be viewed. In the play we get a good look at the general view of comfortably middle class Australians and working class Australians. Jan’s family is represented as middle class and Hughies family is viewed as a working class family. Initially we don't have sympathy for Alf, we have more sympathy for his family, however to the end of the play we gain more sympathy for him. The audience lose sympathy for Hughies family as the play goes on because of the way they express their views. As the audience we feel most sympathy for Wacka as he has partaken in both World War 1 and World War 2. Near the end of the play when we see more into the past and the main characters experiences, we feel more sympathy for them as well as Wacka.

Wacka is easily the wisest, most stoic and a very taciturn character throughout the play. He seems to be scarred by his experiences from War World 1. As the play progresses we develop a better understanding of Wacka, he is very Poignant, quiet and he doesn't like to speak about his experiences and furthermore lets Alf do all the talking. We don't have much sympathy for the Wacka at the beginning of the play as we struggle to understand him, however the more he speaks the more we get to know him and build sympathy for him. Us as the audience gain sympathy for Wacka in many occasions such as when he mentions he doesn't even know his age since he changes it to get into the first World War and then changed it again to partake in World War Two. Wacka is a very understanding person, we see this in him when he defends Hughie for arguing, Wacka knew what he was fighting for in the War, “He’s got the right to think and say what he likes. Any fight in’ we ever did, you’n’ me, in any wars, it was to give him that right”. Wacka has a generous spirit and its through this that Wacka is known as a warm character.

Step back a couple of years and Alf is the typical working class ‘Aussie’. The audience views Alf as just your average drunk, no sympathy is reserved for him. We don't understand Alf, his feelings and emotions, all we see is a rambling drunk. As we get a better understanding of Alf, we can begin to understand why he is who is and feel sympathy for him. When Jan comes into his home and patronises Alf we have empathy for him as she doesn't understand what he has been through, “Don't dwell on the past, get over it”, unlike her father many people were worse off then him. Jan only sees what is front of her and is narrow minded to other opinions. Alf doesn't take Hughies views kindly as he is very defensive of ANZAC day and doesn’t see it as the whole nation getting drunk, he accepts it as a day of mourning, and getting drunk is a part of that to him. He feels as if Hughie doesn't respect that and has betrayed his beliefs. We can be highly critical of Alf but in the end we do feel sympathy for him.

Hughie is a smart young man going through university on scholarship, he has a strong opinion on ANZAC day and is not hesitant about expressing it. Hughie has formed his opinion by reading books on ANZAC day and also through personal experiences from when he was a child