In the play No Sugar, Jack Davis explores the depth between the lifestyles of two contrasting races: the White Australians and the Indigenous Australians. The cultural difference combine with the totalitarianism they live in add up to a very unique lifestyle for the Aborigines. Davis utilises the plight of the Millimurra family’s will to survive in the white society to portray the contrasting yet subtly similar lifestyles of the two races. The family live in a world that is a blend of both white and Aborigines showing the many aspects of both cultures but due to their substandard living conditions, the Aborigines’ lifestyle takes a huge turn away from the Europeans.
The difference between the cultures of the two races is like day and night. Throughout No Sugar, the Millimurra family show the white authority that “you ain’t the boss” by proving that their method of survival, though very unfamiliar to the white culture, is not necessarily inferior. “Don’t need powder, use me own” (Act 4, Scene 7) Gran states as she delivers Mary’s baby; Gran’s opinion shows that she does not need the white knowledge to survive, she can take care of herself and her family with her own traditional ways. Davis also reminds the audience that the Aborigines have not yet lost their pride yet as he makes several references to the Aboriginal cultures during the play. In one of the scenes, the main casts of Aborigines are performing “a corroboree”(Act 2, Scene 6) as they share their stories and their dances. To Europeans, this is perceived as “yacking” but for the Aborigines, it is a deeply sacred ceremonial to interact spiritually with the Dreamtime. With the corroboree and Gran’s traditional methods of doing things, Davis highlights the stark contrast between the lifestyles of both races.
On the other hand, the integration of white culture is also clearly evident in the daily lives of the Millimurra family. In the play, Davis was quick to point out the encroaching white culture into the Aborigines lifestyles with one such example being “David and Cissie play cricket” and “Joe who is absorbed in the special centenary edition of the Western Mail” (Act1, Scene1) in the opening scene of the play. Not only that but the “mouth organ”, “tobacco tin, Wild woodbine, one book” (Act 1, Scene 4) along with the bottles of alcohol that Jimmy seem to always possess symbolises the gradual alienation away from their own traditions. Another aspect that the Aborigines share with the white society is hygiene. Hygiene or rather civilisation is a motif of the play, often mentioned around the character of Milly. Contrary to the white society’s beliefs, the Aborigines are actually not the “savages” they think they are. In fact, Milly is the epitome of a civilised mother; her bewildered reaction to the cut in the supply of soap: ”I just can’t believe it, no soap!” (Act 1, Scene 2) stereotypes her to a caring white woman. Milly’s devotion to hygiene is very much alike to that of a typical white mother. Combine with the fact that the family do and possess white things, the lives of the Aborigines is suddenly a mirror of the white population.
However, owing to their substandard…