ENSURE YOU READ THE PLAY FIRST
Do not freak out at the number of pages here. There are a number of supplementary texts and tables that take up space.
Here is the outline of the booklet:
QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED
1- 8 (on pages 5&10)
2 Reading Material
9-10 (page 15)
3 Reading Material play
END OF PLAY
4 Thinking Routine
FILL IN TABLES
5 Thinking Routine
6 Thinking Routine
CONNECTIONS TO CONTEXT
Please do not complete these 2 tasks, we will do them in class together after the holidays.
TASK 1 – GENDER ROLES
READ THE FOLLOWING texts and complete questions
Gender roles in the 1950S
The 1950s was a time of transition and change in the way Australian men and women saw themselves, and the ways in which they related to each other. This is a major theme of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, and throughout the play, we see the main characters struggling with their identity – with who they are, and with how others see them. Much of this struggle relates to ideas of what it means to be either a „woman‟ or a „man‟.
Although again the picture is not quite as simple as it first seems. While Roo, Barney, Olive and Pearl are very much men and women of their time, they also reject many of the expectations that society places upon them.
Men in the 1950s
What did it mean to be a man in the 1950s? Images of Australian manhood in the first half of the 20th century were based around ideas of individualism, self- confidence, physical strength and mateship. These qualities were often linked in the popular imagination to the physical landscape of Australia, and with images of the Australian outback. In the World War Two novel We Were the Rats by Lawson Glassop (first published in 1944 and popular throughout the early 1950s) the central character Mick discusses why Australians make good soldiers: “it’s because we’re a young and virile country, because we play so much sport and get so much sunshine we’re always fit and because we’ve got the initiative and spirit that helped the pioneers fight drought, fire and flood” [quoted in David Walker, „The Getting of Manhood‟ in P.Spearritt and D.Walker [eds.], Australian Popular Culture, Allen and Unwin, 1979, p129]. Roo and Barney, the cane-cutters of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll seem to embody many of these qualities, and it is in part this that makes them so attractive to Olive, who describes them as “two eagles flyin’ down out of the sun” [Act Two, Scene One].
However, over the course of the play, Ray Lawler questions these images of manhood, and we quickly begin to see that both men are struggling with challenges to their masculinity. Roo’s physical strength is diminishing as he gets older, and Barney’s charms with women are no longer what they once were.
Similarly, the idea of mateship is placed under scrutiny, as it is revealed that Barney didn’t follow Roo off the canefields, deciding instead to stay and work out the rest of the season. It‟s the first time the two men haven’t stayed together.
The identity crisis that Roo and Barney struggle with throughout the Doll reflects the broader transitions and changes that were happening in the early 1950s.
Popular images of manhood in the 1950s were moving away from a traditional picture of men as physically and mentally strong, with a pioneering and independent spirit, and instead towards an image that was more domestic –connected with family and home life. A man’s duty and responsibility was to work, to earn money and to be a provider for his family.
‘What kind of man are you?’ – A quiz from Man magazine, 1952
Taken from John Murphy, Imagining the Fifties, UNSW Press, 2000, p34 Read the extract above:
ANSWER THE FOLLOWING
1. Make a list of the qualities that a man in the 1950s