Why do the Aborigines get sent to Moore River Reserve, and what is the reason that the authorities give for their relocation?
The authorities suggest that the Aborigines are being relocated to Moore River Reserve because of a scabies outbreak at Government Well. Thus, they are given a medical reason to leave all of their belongings behind and move to an entirely new place. However, when they reach the Moore River Reserve, it turns out that only four Aborigines have scabies, which is obviously not reason enough to relocate the entire population. It becomes clear that the authorities have moved the Aborigines in order to make more room for white recreational spaces and white housing. Thus, the relocation is actually a dislocation, motivated by racism towards the Aborigines.
Why does Mary fight back against Neal when he wants to send her to work at the hospital?
When Mary is pregnant, Neal wants to give her a job working at the hospital, but Mary knows that this is all a plot to get her closer to him. She knows that Neal has a history of sexually abusing Aboriginal girls who are working for him, and she has no interest in getting involved, so she resists. She curses him and he ends up beating her with a whip, but he never tries to take advantage of her again.
How is Sister Eileen both helpful and condescending towards her Indigenous pupils?
Sister Eileen advocates on behalf of the Aborigines that she teaches and wants to see that they receive a proper education. She wants to give them a library and she complains about the corporal punishment they face at the hands of various trackers. In this way, she advocates on behalf of the Aborigines' interests, and wants them to be able to develop individual interests in education and literacy. However, she is also a Christian nun, and as such, she pushes Christian values on her pupils, and ultimately holds up the supremacy of white Australians above Indigenous interests. She is part of a broader project to assimilate Indigenous Australians, a project that takes for granted the superiority of white Western culture.
What is complicated about the character of Billy?
Billy is an Indigenous Australian who has been hired by the white authorities to act as a tracker for their purposes. Thus, he is a kind of double agent, working for the white people to curb resistance among the Aborigines, while also maintaining a certain amount of loyalty towards his Indigenous peers. He is a confused character, caught between what he has been hired to do and his cultural heritage.
What is the significance of the title?
Sugar plays many roles in the play. Sam always gives his family members plenty of sugar in their tea, and the Millimura family are kindhearted towards one another, embodiments of sweetness and goodness. However, when it comes to responding to their deplorable treatment under white leadership, the Millimuras are anything but sweet, choosing to heartily resist and air their grievances rather than play nice. At one point, Neville tells the fiery Jimmy that "sugar catches more flies than vinegar" as a way of advising him to be better-behaved if he wants to get more privileges from the government.