Down At The Dump By Patrick White

1162 WORDS

Down At The Dump By Patrick White
'Down at the Dump' Patrick White, most noted for his longer works of fiction,
exemplifies his craft of storytelling in his short story 'Down at the Dump'.

White has dramatized an event in life, such as a funeral, and given us a very
believable insight into our own culture. Some readers will take offence to such
a raw and truthful portrait, while others will find humor and hope in the same
story. White is a writer who crafts a story with such intensity, that at times
it slaps you in the face with the truthful, dirty, honest depiction of his
characters. All of whom we can see something, if not the smallest little detail
of our selves in them. 'Down at the Dump' counterpoints two families, and their
journeys on an afternoon. One of the families is off to the funeral of Mrs.

Hogben's sister Daise. The other family the Whalley's, off to the Sarsaparilla
dump, for busness and pleasure 'I thought the beer was an excuse for comin'.' (Isba
pg.8) 'Down at the Dump' is also a modern day Australian Romeo & Juliet, the
forbidden love between Lummy Whalley and Meg Hogben. Both it seems are destined
for more then what is expected of them. The story is also a comment on the staid
middle-class lifestyle, the petty bourgeois existence of the suburbs. The story
is also a comment on the sexually non-conformist such as daise's character
represents, more about this later. The story is also a comment on standards,
principals, morality, values and judgmental and discriminatory behavior. White
pays attention to the dirty, honest characteristics of human beings, "Her
eyes were that blazing blue, her skin that of a brown peach. But whenever she
smiled, something would happen, her mouth opening on watery sockets and the jags
of brown, rotting stumps." (pg.1) This serves to give the readers a deeper
understanding of the characters right down to the bone. This typical descriptive
passage is common in white's writing. It cuts to the core of the character,
shedding light on a side rarely taken by an author. A gritty and honest sense of
reality is achieved. "Down at the Dump" is a story revolving around
binary oppositions, a set of contrasts. The two main families, 'The Hogben's and

Whalley's' are the two main constructs of White's direct opposition. This
opposition is nowhere more visible then in white's use of language when giving
his characters a voice. Whites characters speak from the heart. Their own use of
language reflects directly their class and education. For example - the

Whalley's speak from the heart, with a distinctly working-class accent.
"Ere!...waddaya make me out ter be? A lump of wood." (Isba pg.1) We
get a sense very early in the story, by the way the Whalley's speak, a direct
reflection of their socio-economic background. White's use of language when
describing the Whalley's is derogatory and intentionly off putting. This is
contrasted in direct opposition to the Hogben's. Who are described through their
slightly more capable use of the English language. This helps enforce them as
being worth more in a snobby middle-class way. This direct opposition is again
contrasted to another level. For although White uses harsh, dirty, honest
language when describing the Whalley's, we cannot help but feel empathy with
them for their honesty. The Whalley's seem truthfully real and direct people,
yet crass and crude on the outside. This is the opposite for the Hogben's. The

Hogben's use of speech is much more educated. Although they are described with
nice, fluffy, sensitive language, I am filled with contempt for them. Meg being
the exception she is one of white's poetic seers; someone who is destined for
more. The domestic abodes of the two families are also a symbolic representative
of their different socio-economic position and different way of life. Our story
takes its journey to the funeral and the dump respectively where towards the end
of the funeral serves daise rises from the grave to relinquish her thoughts and
feelings. It is about here in the story that the passage I will be discussing
indepth occurs. It is through Daise Morrow that Patrick white chooses to make
social commentry through his authorial voice. The ideological concerns of the
story are quite clear in this passage. The passage I will be referring to starts
midway down page 16 'Even if their rage grief, contempt, boredom, apathy, and
sense of injustice had not occupied the she got in side the
car, and waited

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