Date of Award

1-1-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Communications and Arts

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

Abstract

This thesis comprises a historical novel entitled 'The Double Sunrise' and an exegesis entitled 'Australian National Identity and "The Double Sunrise'". The novel contains three books. The narrative starts in Book I through the perspective of twelve-year-old, fatherless Virginia. The introductory scene, set in 1957, depicts the girl's consciousness and self-consciousness at the wedding of her mother, Valerie, a former English war-bride and war-widow, to her second husband Noel. When the newly married couple leave for their honeymoon, Virginia is left in the care of her aunt, Attie, (her father's twin sister) who lives on a farm in the south west of Western Australia. From here, the story-line reverts to a time six months earlier when Virginia was previously left in the care of Attie during her mother's return to England with her Australian lover for a holiday. The girl's experiences on the farm and the friendships she forms with Attie, Mr Penworthy, her music teacher and Dieter, a German refugee who works on the farm, enrich her life and provide an awakening of womanhood and a wider family identity. The book closes on Christmas Day as Virginia learns of her mother's marriage plans and imminent return journey to Australia with Noel.

Book II skips back to January 1945 with the war-bride's arrival in Australia with baby Virginia ahead of her husband, Jasper, an Australian bomber pilot based in Lincolnshire. This narrative, describing the isolation and loneliness of women's life on the farm as they await Jasper's return, is told through two perspectives: that of Valerie and her sister-in-law Attie, who is managing the farm while Jasper is at war. Following the announcement of victory at the end of Book II, the story narrative picks up in 1963, with a return to Virginia's perspective in Book III. While the girl is waiting to start a musical career at university, she is involved in a burning accident with her little half-sister, Dorothy. When the child dies, Valerie is grief-stricken and Virginia is so traumatised that she can no longer play the piano. Her later meeting with Theo, a young student of Dutch-Indonesian parentage provides love and consolation, helping her towards recovery. The remainder of the story involves Virginia's reactions to her mother's tragic death, Theo's proposal to her following his national service call-up and the unfolding mystery of Jasper's whereabouts and her imminent journey to solve it.

The exegesis, which provides a cultural, historical and literary context for my novel, is structured around two elements: the first consists of an explanation of the creative process and a detailing of memorabilia which inspired me to write 'The Double Sunrise'; the second undertakes an exploration of constructions of Australian national identity until the 1960s through the discourses of myth, war, place, gender and race, and the journey.

Comments

Only the exegesis of this thesis is available on Research Online.

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