No Sugar

No Sugar Summary and Analysis of Part 2


Scene 6. At the Government well, in winter, Gran is building a fire, Sam is carrying water, David is getting ready for school, Cissie sits near the fire, and Millie fries fat. Milly tells Cissie to write a letter to Jimmy before she goes. They complain about the fact that they only have bread and fat to eat, as Joe enters with empty rabbit traps.

When Milly rallies Cissie, she realizes that Cissie has a cough and a fever. Milly orders Joe to go ask his uncle Herbie for his horse and cart so they can take Cissie to the doctor. Gran tells Joe to ask him for some root medicine, which she calls gnummarri. David and Joe leave together. After Milly makes plans to insulate the house better in the cold, Sam picks up Cissie and they all leave.

Scene 7. At the Chief Protector's office, in 1932, Jimmy sits outside waiting for Neville. When Neville arrives, Jimmy ask him for train fare, but Neville insists that he has to wait for the office to open, suggesting that "sugar catches more flies than vinegar." As Neville goes into his office, Constable Kerr comes into the office, limping from a soccer injury. He is followed by Miss Dunn, and Jimmy asks her if he can talk to Neville. She tells Jimmy to wait at a bench for Aborigines.

Neville asks Dunn to connect him to Carrol. Meanwhile, Jimmy tries to convince Miss Dunn to let him speak to Neville, but he tells her to make him wait. Jimmy tries to reason with her, telling her that he just got out of jail and he needs train fare back home. Neville communicates that if he comes back after two o'clock, he can get a travel voucher.

Carrol and Neville speak about a new native reserve, as Gran and Milly approach the police station and beg to speak to Carrol. As Carrol and Neville hang up, Gran and Milly enter Carrol's office, while Jimmy enters Neville's. Gran and Milly tell Carrol that Cissie is sick, while Jimmy asks for a travel voucher. Carrol tells the women that they have no blankets yet, and the most he can do is send a reminder to the Department in Perth. He then tells them that there will no longer be meat in their rations. "An' you're supposed to be native 'tector," Gran says dismissively, and they exit.

After they leave, Carrol says to the Constable, "Looks like I'm the one needs protectin'." Neville calls Jimmy in and gives him a travel voucher for an 11 o'clock mixed-goods train. Jimmy wants to take a 5 o'clock train instead, so he can look around. As he leaves, he says, "Native Protector, couldn't protect my dog from fleas."

Scene 8. Jimmy is home in Government Well, mending some shoes, as Gran and Millie sew. Sam enters with water and Joe comes in with a sugar bag. Jimmy gives Joe his mended shoes, as Joe brings in some vegetables and says that Cissie is ready to come home from the hospital. Jimmy makes plans to steal sheep from a nearby farm, and Gran warns him to be careful.

Scene 9. At Neville's office, Neville dictates to Miss Dunn, when Carrol enters for a meeting. Gathering a file, Neville says that they have found the natives in Government Well to be "rotten with scabies" and they are planning to move all 89 of them to the Moore River Settlement. They make plans to put them on trains with as little of their belongings as possible. "They won't leave their dogs behind," Carrol insists, but Neville insists that the superintendent won't approve dogs coming with them. Before Carrol leaves, Neville insists that this whole operation must remain confidential. The men wish each other Merry Christmas, and Carrol takes his leave.

Scene 10. At Government Well, Cissie looks for lice in David's hair with a knife as Milly and Gran sew. A car pulls up outside, and Carrol and the Constable get out to escort Jimmy, Joe, and Sam to the camp. "I've got warrants here for the arrest and apprehension of all of youse," Carrol says, insisting that they are being transferred to the Moore River Native Settlement. Gran refuses, but Carrol insists that it's because of the outbreak of a skin disease.

Jimmy talks back, insisting that the reason they are being transferred is because the white community does not want them around. Carrol insists that they are leaving on a mixed goods train the next morning, while Sam and his family will be going with the road party. Gran begins to wail and cry, and Carrol agrees to let her go with the road party. She instantly stops crying, as Carrol brings Jimmy away.

Sam asks about their kangaroo dogs, and Carrol tells him that no dogs are allowed. "According to Dr. Aberdeen you've got a serious heart condition, so you'll be going on the train, Jimmy," Carrol says, but Jimmy does not want to. Gran becomes frantic about the police shooting their dogs and begins to make a ruckus. Annoyed, Carrol says she can keep her dog, and leaves.


The difficulties of being a poor Aborigine become even starker in the opening scene of this section. In the dead of winter, the Millamura family are barely able to keep their home warm enough, and the young daughter, Cissie, falls ill. In spite of numerous obstacles to getting her care, the family rallies around her recovery, and jump into action to try and find her medical help. In this moment, we see that the problems that the Millamura clan face have tragic implications.

In scene 7, playwright Jack Davis stages two simultaneous meetings between Aborigines and white authorities, a dramatic device known as the perambulate model. Jimmy goes to visit Neville about train fare home after his jail sentence, while at the same time, Gran and Milly visit Carrol to tell him about Cissie's illness. We see each scene at the same time, which heightens the stakes of each of the characters' plights and throws into relief the desperate situation the Millamuras find themselves in.

In staging these scenes of the Aborigines requesting help from uninterested authorities, Davis stages the failures of bureaucracy and the ways that programs designed to help groups and allegedly "protect" them are, in fact, antithetical to these projects. Milly and Gran are desperate for blankets to protect their daughters, but Carrol insists that the most he can do is "put in a reminder to the Department in Perth." Meanwhile, Jimmy needs a travel voucher to get back to his family—a simple request—but Neville puts him on hold until he can no longer keep him away. In this political climate, business and negotiation take precedent over actual human values, to catastrophic effect.

The men who are in charge of protecting the Aborigines consistently prove to have no interest in their actual needs, which comes to a head in Carrol and Neville's decision to move the entire population of Government Well to another reserve without their consent. The colonial project of the white settlers of Australia continues in this new displacement, and Neville and Carrol discuss the indigenous community as though they are objects to be picked up and moved around whenever they please. Rather than focusing on providing the Aborigines with the resources they need, they treat the symptoms of their failed systems as the problems themselves and use them to justify their dehumanizing campaigns.

Throughout the course of Act 1, we see Aborigines go from second-class citizens to completely reviled and dehumanized objects, sent to a camp far away from their home. The news is devastating to the Millamura family, who are suspicious that the entire plot to dislocate them is not about disease at all, but about white Australians' distaste for them. The final scene of the first act is a tragic one, in which we see a family come to terms with their complete disenfranchisement and abasement. To make matters worse, they are not even allowed to bring their beloved dogs along on the journey.