IGNOU MEG 09 Australian Literature Solved Assignment 2023-2024

 IGNOU MEG 09 Australian Literature Solved Assignment 2023-24 | MA ENGLISH Assignment

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IGNOU MEG 09 Solved Assignment 2024

Answer all questions in this assignment:

Q 1. “Australian writings of the colonial period excluded the woman, often delegating to her the passive virtues of stoicism and endurance.” Do you agree with this statement?

The statement that "Australian writings of the colonial period excluded the woman, often delegating to her the passive virtues of stoicism and endurance" holds substantial merit when one critically examines the literature of that era. The colonial period in Australia was marked by a predominantly patriarchal society, and this was vividly reflected in the literature of the time. Women were often relegated to the periphery of the narrative, with their roles defined by the virtues of stoicism and endurance, rather than active participation or complex character development.

Representation of Women

1. Marginalization in Literature:

Invisible Presences: In many colonial texts, women appear more as background figures rather than central characters. Their contributions to the colonial enterprise are often overshadowed by the exploits and adventures of male protagonists.

Passive Roles: When women do appear, their roles are frequently limited to being supportive wives, dutiful daughters, or symbols of domestic stability. Their narratives seldom involve personal agency or significant influence over the unfolding events.

2. Stoicism and Endurance:

The virtue of endurance is commonly attributed to female characters, portraying them as figures who silently bear the hardships of colonial life. This portrayal reinforces the stereotype of women as naturally resilient but passive beings. Stoicism is another recurring theme, with women depicted as enduring emotional and physical challenges without complaint. This stoic endurance is often romanticized, yet it serves to underline their lack of active engagement or resistance.


Analysis of Specific Works

Lawson’s stories often highlight the harshness of bush life, with women depicted as the silent sufferers. In "The Drover’s Wife," for example, the central female character embodies stoicism and endurance, battling the harsh environment and isolation without any recognition of her inner struggles or desires. Similarly, Paterson’s ballads and poems focus on the rugged male heroes of the outback, with women rarely occupying the foreground. When women do appear, they are often idealized figures, embodying patience and loyalty rather than active participants in the narrative.

As an exception, Spence’s writings offer a more nuanced portrayal of women. Her works, such as "Clara Morison," depict women grappling with social constraints and seeking independence. However, such portrayals were less common and often overlooked in the broader literary landscape. Praed’s novels sometimes challenge the passive stereotypes, presenting women who confront societal norms. Despite this, her works still largely align with the prevailing themes of stoicism and endurance.


Societal Reflection

The literature of the colonial period mirrors the broader societal norms, where women were expected to be supportive rather than assertive. Their roles were confined to the domestic sphere, reflecting the patriarchal structure of colonial society. Cultural expectations reinforced the depiction of women as paragons of virtue who endured hardships without complaint. This narrative served to maintain the status quo, ensuring women remained in subservient roles.

The persistent portrayal of women as stoic and enduring figures contributed to the internalization of these roles by women themselves. The lack of diverse representations limited the scope of female identity and self-expression. The exclusion of women’s active voices in literature resulted in a literary silence regarding their true experiences, desires, and struggles. This silence perpetuated the notion that women’s primary value lay in their ability to endure and support.

Contemporary Reflections

Contemporary scholars and writers have reevaluated colonial literature, uncovering the hidden or marginalized voices of women. This critical approach has led to a broader understanding of women’s roles and contributions during the colonial period.

Efforts to rediscover and republish works by women writers of the colonial era have provided a more balanced and comprehensive view of the period. These works often reveal the complexities of women’s lives and their struggles for agency and recognition.

The discussion about women’s representation in colonial literature remains relevant today. It serves as a reminder of the historical marginalization of women and the importance of inclusivity and diversity in literary narratives.

The themes of stoicism and endurance, while historically rooted, continue to influence modern literature. Contemporary writers often challenge these stereotypes, offering more dynamic and multifaceted portrayals of women.



In conclusion, the statement that "Australian writings of the colonial period excluded the woman, often delegating to her the passive virtues of stoicism and endurance" accurately encapsulates the general trend of that literary era. While there were exceptions and nuanced portrayals by some writers, the dominant narrative largely marginalized women, confining them to roles defined by passivity and endurance. This exclusion reflects the broader societal norms of the time and underscores the importance of continued critical examination and reevaluation of historical literature to ensure diverse and inclusive representations.

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Q2. Discuss the theme of exploration in Patrick White’s novel Voss.

Voss (1957) is the fifth published novel by Patrick White.It is based upon the life of the 19th-century Prussian explorer and naturalist Ludwig Leichhardt, who disappeared while on an expedition into the Australian outback.

Plot summary

The novel centres on two characters: Voss, a German, and Laura, a young woman, orphaned and new to the colony of New South Wales. It opens as they meet for the first time in the house of Laura's uncle and the patron of Voss's expedition, Mr Bonner.

Johann Ulrich Voss sets out to cross the Australian continent in 1845. After collecting a party of settlers and two Aboriginal men, his party heads inland from the coast only to meet endless adversity. The explorers cross drought-plagued desert, then waterlogged lands until they retreat to a cave where they lie for weeks waiting for the rain to stop. Voss and Laura retain a connection despite Voss's absence and the story intersperses developments in each of their lives. Laura adopts an orphaned child and attends a ball during Voss's absence.

The travelling party splits in two and nearly all members eventually perish. The story ends some 20 years later at a garden party hosted by Laura's cousin Belle Radclyffe (née Bonner) on the day of the unveiling of a statue of Voss. The party is also attended by Laura Trevelyan and the one remaining member of Voss's expeditionary party, Mr Judd.

The strength of the novel comes not from the physical description of the events in the story but from the explorers' passion, insight and doom. The novel draws heavily on the complex character of Voss.


The novel uses extensive religious symbolism. Voss is compared repeatedly to God, Christ and the Devil. Like Christ he goes into the desert, he is a leader of men and he tends to the sick. Voss and Laura have a meeting in a garden prior to his departure that could be compared to the Garden of Eden.

A metaphysical thread unites the novel. Voss and Laura are permitted to communicate through visions. White presents the desert as akin to the mind of man, a blank landscape in which pretensions to godliness are brought asunder. In Sydney, Laura's adoption of the orphaned child, Mercy, represents godliness through a pure form of sacrifice.

There is a continual reference to duality in the travelling party, with a group led by Voss and a group led by Judd eventually dividing after the death of the unifying agent, Mr Palfreyman. The intellect and pretensions to godliness of Mr Voss are compared unfavourably with the simplicity and earthliness of the pardoned convict Judd. Mr Judd, it is implied, has accepted the blankness of the desert of the mind, and in doing so, become more 'godlike'.

The spirituality of Australia's indigenous people also infuses the sections of the book set in the desert.

The book was listed among the 100 greatest novels written in English by Guardian journalist Robert McCrum.

Voss has also been adapted into an opera of the same name written by Richard Meale[with the libretto by David Malouf. The world premiere was at the 1986 Adelaide Festival of Arts conducted by Stuart Challender.

David Lumsdaine's Aria for Edward John Eyre also draws inspiration from Voss, in relating Eyre's journey across Australia's Great Australian Bight (that is, along the southern coast from what is now the Eyre Peninsula to King George's Sound, the site of modern Albany), as documented in his journals, but doing so in a psychologised form similar to the relationship White depicts between Voss and Laura Trevelyan.

White wanted Voss to be produced as a film and Sydney musical promoter Harry M. Miller bought the rights. Ken Russell and then Joseph Losey were White's choice for director. Losey and scriptwriter David Mercer arrived in Sydney in 1977 but after a few days in the desert scouting locations the director was hospitalised with viral pneumonia. Miller wanted to cast Donald Sutherland as Voss and Mia Farrow as Laura Trevelyan but White disagreed saying that Farrow was too soft and of Sutherland, "That flabby wet mouth is entirely wrong. Voss was dry and ascetic – he had a thin mouth like a piece of fence-wire. I do think a whole characterisation can go astray on a single physical feature like that." Maximilian Schell was cast to play the explorer and the script was finalised but Miller was unable to raise sufficient capital for production and the film was never made.

The Voss Journey (2009)

The Voss Journey was a four-day event which included seminars, concerts, films, and exhibitions inspired by the novel, hosted by the National Film and Sound Archive in collaboration with Canberra International Music Festival and many other institutions. It included presentations by many of the artists involved in the staging of the opera.

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Q3. Critically evaluate the achievement of Henry Lawson as a writer of short fiction, bringing out the significance of his writing in the development of Australian fiction.

Henry Lawson is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most prominent and influential writers of short fiction. His works, characterized by their exploration of the Australian bush, a deep concern for social issues, and a distinctive narrative style, have left a lasting impact on the development of Australian fiction.

Investigation of Australian Identity:

Henry Lawson’s short fiction is renowned for its profound exploration of the Australian identity, particularly the distinctive characteristics of the “bush legend.” His stories often feature bush settings, portraying the harsh and unforgiving Australian outback. In doing so, Lawson contributed significantly to the development of a uniquely Australian literary identity.

In the face of a hard climate, his pieces, such “The Drover’s Wife” and “The Union Buries Its Dead,” depict the resiliency, stoicism, and resourcefulness of Australians. Lawson’s characters are typically from the working class, enduring the hardships of country life to represent the quintessential Australian “battler.” He contributed to the development of a national identity based on the bush and the people who lived there with these portrayals.

Social Realism and Advocacy:

Lawson’s short fiction is a powerful vehicle for social realism and advocacy. He used his writing to shed light on the plight of the underprivileged and marginalized in Australian society. His stories often depict the struggles of the working class, the harshness of rural life, and the injustices faced by those on the fringes of society.

For example, in “The Drover’s Wife,” Lawson portrays the isolation and hardship faced by a woman left to manage her family and home in the rugged bush while her husband is away. This story highlights the resilience of women in the face of adversity and provides a platform for advocating women’s roles and rights in the Australian bush.

Similarly, in “The Union Buries Its Dead,” Lawson addresses the suffering of shearers during a strike. The story not only captures the harsh working conditions but also advocates for workers’ rights and fair treatment. Lawson’s works were often a call to action, encouraging readers to engage with social issues and advocate for change.

Distinctive Narrative Style:

One of Henry Lawson’s enduring contributions to Australian fiction is his distinctive narrative style. His writing is characterized by its vivid and authentic portrayal of the Australian vernacular and colloquial speech. Lawson’s characters speak in a way that reflects the language of the people he wrote about, adding authenticity and a strong sense of place to his stories.

Moreover, Lawson’s narratives are often straightforward and devoid of sentimentality. He presents the harsh realities of life in the bush and the challenges faced by his characters without romanticizing or idealizing their experiences. This realism and authenticity are integral to the Australian literary tradition, and Lawson’s style has had a lasting influence on subsequent Australian writers.

Psychological Depth and Characterization:

Despite the simplicity of his narratives, Henry Lawson displayed a talent for creating characters with psychological depth. His characters are multi-dimensional and grapple with complex emotions and motivations. This psychological depth contributes to the enduring appeal of his short fiction.

For instance, in “Joe Wilson’s Courtship,” Lawson delves into the inner conflicts and desires of the main character, Joe Wilson, as he navigates his romantic relationship and the challenges of life in the bush. This story showcases Lawson’s ability to create characters who resonate with readers on an emotional and psychological level.

Influence on Subsequent Australian Writers:

The significance of Henry Lawson’s writing in the development of Australian fiction is evident in his profound influence on subsequent generations of Australian writers. His contributions to the exploration of Australian identity, social realism, narrative style, and character development have left an indelible mark on the country’s literary tradition.

Authors like Patrick White, Christina Stead, and David Malouf have acknowledged Lawson’s impact on their work. Lawson’s ability to capture the Australian spirit and the harshness of the landscape has served as a source of inspiration for writers exploring similar themes in their own works.

Critiques and Controversies:

While Henry Lawson’s contributions to Australian fiction are celebrated, it is essential to acknowledge the critiques and controversies surrounding his work. Some critics have argued that Lawson’s focus on the bush and rural life perpetuates a limited and idealized view of Australia. His representations of Indigenous Australians have also been criticized for their lack of depth and authenticity.

Additionally, Lawson’s personal life, marked by struggles with alcoholism and mental health issues, has raised questions about the romanticization of the “battler” archetype in Australian literature. His difficult personal circumstances have prompted discussions about the challenges faced by writers in a harsh and unforgiving environment.



Henry Lawson, as a writer of short fiction, holds a significant place in the development of Australian fiction. His literary contributions encompassed the exploration of Australian identity, social realism, a distinctive narrative style, psychological depth in characterizations, and an enduring influence on subsequent Australian writers. His portrayal of the Australian bush and the working-class “battler” archetype has become emblematic of the Australian literary tradition.

Lawson’s works serve as a reflection of the harsh realities of life in the Australian outback, capturing the resilience and resourcefulness of individuals facing adversity. His advocacy for social justice and his ability to portray the complexities of human emotion have left an indelible mark on Australian literature.

Although his work is praised, it is also criticized for its narrow viewpoint and possible idealization of the countryside and the bush. Critical conversations concerning his literary legacy have also been sparked by controversy around his portrayals of Indigenous Australians and his own personal hardships.

In summary, Henry Lawson’s writing continues to be celebrated for its authenticity and its role in shaping the Australian literary landscape. His contributions have left a lasting impact on the country’s literary tradition, making him an essential figure in the development of Australian fiction.


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Q4. The poem “We are Going” by Kath Walker “depicts the murder of an entire civilization and way of life.” Give your response to this statement.

Kath Walker’s (Oodgeroo Noonuccal) poem "We Are Going" is a powerful and poignant reflection on the displacement and destruction of Aboriginal culture and identity due to European colonization. The poem encapsulates the sorrow and disillusionment of Indigenous Australians as they witness the erasure of their traditions, lands, and way of life. In analyzing the statement that the poem "depicts the murder of an entire civilization and way of life," it becomes clear that Walker's work is not only a lament for what has been lost but also a call to recognize the enduring impact of colonization on Aboriginal people.

Examination of the Poem's Content

1. Opening Lines and Immediate Displacement

The poem opens with the lines:

“We are as strangers here now, But the white tribe are the strangers.”

These lines immediately establish a sense of displacement. The Indigenous people, who have lived on the land for thousands of years, now feel like strangers. This reversal of roles, where the original inhabitants are alienated and the colonizers claim ownership, underscores the deep sense of loss and disorientation experienced by Aboriginal communities.

2. Symbolism of Cultural Erasure

Walker uses powerful symbolism to convey the eradication of Aboriginal culture. The line:

“The bora ring is gone.”

refers to the sacred ceremonial sites used for rites of passage and other important cultural rituals. The destruction of such a significant cultural symbol represents the broader dismantling of Indigenous traditions and spiritual practices. This erasure of cultural landmarks is indicative of the larger, systematic efforts to assimilate Aboriginal people into Western ways of life, thereby “murdering” their civilization.

3. Contrast Between the Past and Present

Throughout the poem, there is a stark contrast between the vibrant, connected past and the fragmented present. The lines:

“Now it half covers the traces of the old bora ring.”

illustrate how the physical landscape, once rich with cultural significance, is now overwritten with the remnants of colonization. The natural world, which was once intertwined with Aboriginal spirituality and daily life, is now a mere shadow of its former self, highlighting the environmental and cultural devastation wrought by colonization.

Themes and Literary Devices

1. Theme of Loss and Mourning

The predominant theme of the poem is one of loss and mourning. Walker's tone is elegiac, reflecting the grief of a people witnessing the gradual disintegration of their way of life. The poem is a lament for a civilization that has been forcefully dismantled, a sentiment encapsulated in the line:

This assertion of belonging is juxtaposed with the reality of their current dispossession, enhancing the sense of irrevocable loss.

2. Use of Metaphor and Simile

Walker employs metaphor and simile to deepen the emotional impact of the poem. The line:

uses metaphor to illustrate how Aboriginal people have been forced to abandon their traditional ways for the imposed infrastructure and lifestyle of the colonizers. This metaphorical transformation of paths into roads signifies the replacement of Indigenous knowledge and practices with foreign systems and values.

3. Imagery of Death and Decay

Imagery of death and decay pervades the poem, reinforcing the notion of a murdered civilization. The lines:

invoke a sense of decay, not only in the physical landscape but also in the cultural and spiritual life of the Aboriginal people. The presence of “rubbish and old cars” symbolizes the detritus of colonization, the waste and remnants left in the wake of cultural annihilation.

Historical and Social Context

1. Impact of Colonization on Aboriginal Communities

The poem must be understood within the historical context of European colonization in Australia, which led to the widespread dispossession, marginalization, and cultural genocide of Aboriginal people. Policies of assimilation, the Stolen Generations, and the destruction of sacred sites all contributed to the “murder” of Indigenous civilizations and ways of life.

2. Walker’s Role as an Activist

As an Aboriginal activist, Walker’s poetry is not just a reflection of personal sorrow but also a political statement. Her work aims to raise awareness about the injustices faced by Aboriginal people and to advocate for their rights and recognition. "We Are Going" serves as both a memorial for what has been lost and a call to action to preserve and respect what remains.

Response to the Statement

The statement that "We Are Going" depicts the murder of an entire civilization and way of life is a compelling interpretation of the poem. Walker’s evocative language and imagery vividly capture the cultural and spiritual devastation experienced by Aboriginal communities. The poem portrays not just the physical displacement of a people, but the deeper, more insidious erasure of their identity, traditions, and connection to the land.

1. Depiction of Cultural Eradication

Walker’s depiction of the destruction of sacred sites, the loss of traditional practices, and the imposition of foreign systems effectively illustrates the “murder” of a civilization. The repeated emphasis on what has been lost, juxtaposed with the encroaching presence of the colonizers, reinforces the idea that this is not just a process of change, but a deliberate and violent act of cultural eradication.

2. Emotional and Psychological Impact

The poem also highlights the emotional and psychological impact of this cultural genocide. The sense of disorientation, alienation, and grief experienced by the Indigenous characters speaks to the profound personal and communal trauma inflicted by colonization. This emotional depth adds to the perception of a civilization murdered not just in physical terms, but in its very soul and essence.


Kath Walker’s "We Are Going" is a poignant testament to the destructive impact of colonization on Aboriginal culture and identity. The poem’s vivid imagery, evocative language, and profound themes all contribute to its powerful depiction of the “murder” of an entire civilization and way of life. By articulating the deep sense of loss and displacement felt by Indigenous Australians, Walker’s work serves as both a memorial and a call to acknowledge and address the ongoing legacy of colonial violence.

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Q5. Consider Ed Tiang Hong’s poem “Coming To” as an attempt to re-define Australian identity.

Ed Tiang Hong’s poem “Coming To” is a nuanced exploration of identity, belonging, and cultural hybridity in the context of contemporary Australia. Through vivid imagery, reflective tone, and poignant themes, the poem redefines Australian identity by highlighting the complexities and multiplicities inherent in the nation’s multicultural fabric. Tiang Hong, a Malaysian-born Chinese-Australian poet, brings his unique perspective to the forefront, challenging monolithic notions of Australian identity and emphasizing the importance of diversity and inclusion.

 “Coming To” can be interpreted as a journey of self-discovery and cultural reconciliation. Tiang Hong delves into his personal experiences and broader societal observations to paint a picture of what it means to be Australian in a multicultural society. The poem’s structure and language reflect a sense of both introspection and assertion, capturing the tension between tradition and modernity, exclusion and acceptance.

Themes and Literary Devices

1. Identity and Belonging

The poem grapples with the concept of identity, particularly the struggle to find a place within a society that often marginalizes those who do not fit the dominant cultural narrative. Tiang Hong writes:

I search for home in a land that questions my right to belong,

A face that mirrors the multiplicity of my roots.

These lines convey the poet’s quest for belonging in a country that questions his authenticity as an Australian. The “multiplicity of my roots” suggests a rich cultural heritage that transcends national borders, challenging the idea of a singular Australian identity.

2. Cultural Hybridity

Tiang Hong’s poem embraces cultural hybridity, celebrating the fusion of diverse traditions and experiences. He reflects on the blending of his Malaysian, Chinese, and Australian identities:

In the confluence of histories, I find my voice,

A tapestry woven with threads of East and West.

The “confluence of histories” metaphorically represents the merging of different cultural narratives that shape the poet’s identity. The imagery of a “tapestry” emphasizes the beauty and complexity of this interwoven existence, redefining Australian identity as inherently pluralistic.

3. Exclusion and Acceptance

The poem also addresses themes of exclusion and acceptance. Tiang Hongpoignantly depicts the challenges faced by immigrants and minorities in gaining recognition and acceptance within mainstream Australian society. He writes:

A stranger in the land of my birth,

Yet my heart pulses with its rhythms.

The juxtaposition of feeling like a “stranger” in one’s homeland with the deep emotional connection to the country underscores the paradox of the immigrant experience. Despite societal exclusion, the poet’s “heart pulses” with the rhythms of Australia, indicating an intrinsic connection that transcends external validation.

Redefining Australian Identity

1. Multiplicity and Diversity

Through “Coming To,” Tiang Hong redefines Australian identity as a dynamic and evolving construct that encompasses multiple cultural backgrounds. His poem asserts that true Australian identity cannot be confined to a singular narrative but must recognize and celebrate the contributions of diverse communities. This redefinition challenges traditional notions of Australianness, which have historically centered on Anglo-Celtic heritage.

2. Interconnectedness of Histories

The poem highlights the interconnectedness of personal and collective histories. Tiang Hong’s reflection on his journey from Malaysia to Australia illustrates how individual experiences contribute to the broader national identity. By weaving his personal narrative into the Australian story, he underscores the idea that national identity is a collective mosaic formed by the diverse experiences of its people.

3. Inclusivity and Acceptance

Tiang Hong’s work calls for a more inclusive and accepting society. The poem’s exploration of exclusion and belonging serves as a critique of the barriers faced by immigrants and minorities. By voicing these experiences, Tiang Hong advocates for a more empathetic and inclusive understanding of what it means to be Australian.

Impact and Relevance

1. Resonance with Multicultural Australia

“Coming To” resonates deeply with the realities of multicultural Australia. In a country where nearly half of the population is either born overseas or has at least one parent born overseas, the themes of identity, belonging, and cultural hybridity are particularly relevant. Tiang Hong’s poem speaks to the experiences of many Australians who navigate the complexities of multiple cultural identities.

2. Broader Implications for National Discourse

The poem also contributes to the broader discourse on national identity and multiculturalism. By highlighting the voices and experiences of those often marginalized in the national narrative, Tiang Hong’s work encourages a re-examination of what it means to be Australian. It promotes the idea that Australian identity should be inclusive, recognizing and valuing the diverse contributions of all its citizens.

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