No Sugar

No Sugar Summary and Analysis of Part 5


Scene 4. Sister Eileen visits Neal's office, but when she knocks, he ignores it. He is distracted, but she talks to him about the Australia Day ceremony, and the fact that it would be nice for Neville to announce the hymn that the children will sing. Neal asks Eileen if she's been lending novels to Aborigines. "There's a sort of unofficial directive on this; it's the sort of thing which isn't encouraged by the Department," Neal tells her. Eileen is skeptical and tells him that she wanted to open a small library.

"Look, my experience with natives in South Africa and here has taught—led me to believe that there's a lot of wisdom in the old adage that 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,'" Neal tells her in response. Eileen is taken aback and uses this moment as an opportunity to tell Neal that she disapproves of the violence that the native policemen have been using towards her students. "I'd prefer that they come of their own free will," Eileen says, and Neal threatens to transfer her.

Scene 5. Australia Day, 1934, at the Moore River Settlement. Neal, Neville, and the Matron are sitting, while Billy and Bluey prepare to raise the flag. Sister Eileen is speaking to the people from the settlement, talking about how they have to celebrate the king of the region, as well as Jesus Christ, "the King of Kings." The white people clap, but the Aborigines do not.

Neville stands and addresses the crowds, saying they are there to celebrate the founding of Australia 146 years earlier. He discusses the fact that, traveling around the country, he has seen a lot of poverty given the depression that is taking place, but that on the settlement, people are adequately provided for. Neville discusses the fact that the Aborigines are being prepared to integrate into Australian culture, implying that the goal has to do with assimilation with white society.

Everyone stands and sings "There is a Happy Land," but in the middle of the song, the Aborigines begin to parody the song's lyrics, and Neville tries to stop them. "I'm appalled by this disgraceful demonstration of ingratitude. I can tell you that you will live to rue this day. There will be no privileges from now on," Neville threatens.

Jimmy talks back to Neville, inviting him to eat dinner with them that night. He then asks Neville if he voted for Jimmy Mitchell. Sister Eileen suddenly stands and begins to sing "God Save the King," and Jimmy realizes that the reason the Aborigines were moved to Moore River was so that the white citizens of Northam could vote for Jimmy Mitchell and have a "nice, white little fuckin' town."

Jimmy gets more and more passionate when suddenly he collapses. His family and the Matron rush to him and they bring him to the hospital.

Scene 6. Neal reads the newspaper in his office, when the Matron comes in. He is reading about a civil war that is taking place, when Milly and Sam come towards the office. They ask if Neal can get Joe out of jail for Jimmy's funeral, but he tells them that it's too late. Milly becomes upset and threatens to send Joe to get revenge when he gets out of jail.

Scene 7. Mary is giving birth next to a campfire outside the camp, where Gran and Milly are assembled. Gran helps her deliver the baby, a boy. David wakes up, and Milly tells him he's an uncle and he rushes to see the baby. Suddenly, the Matron arrives with Cissie and Topsy, and Mary begs them to hide the baby from Matron, so she doesn't take it away. She cries out, suggesting that the Matron will kill the baby like they have the other ones.

Scene 8. The family sit around the fire, when suddenly they hear a loud whistle. Joe has returned, carrying a sugar bag, with David on his back. He is home two weeks early, and goes to see his baby. The baby is 10 weeks old, and Sam tells him that they call the baby koolbardi. Joe says he wants to call the baby Jimmy and Gran begins to sob. He gives Gran a pipe and good tobacco, gives Cissie some ribbons, David a pocket knife, his mother a needle and cotton, and his father some tobacco and papers.

Finally, Joe pulls out a large box for Mary. She opens it and finds a red dress. When they ask how he made his money, he tells them he earned wages from work. Mary tells him about the fact that Neal tried to rape her, but she resisted and now he's afraid of her.

Scene 9. Topsy brings Neal some tea, while Neal calls Joe into his office. He reads Joe an order that allows him to go to live somewhere else with Mary, but that specifies that he cannot settle in Northam. Neal calls Billy in to act as a witness and Joe signs. Outside the office, Joe meets up with Mary and Billy offers him his whip as a gift to catch animals. They accept and leave.

Scene 10. At the camp, Milly gives Mary a bag of sugar and they say their goodbyes. Sam asks Joe where he's going and Joe tells him he's going back to Northam. As Joe and Mary leave, Gran sings a traditional song.


We see that, among the many ways that the white authorities control and oppress the Aborigines, limiting their education is one of the main tactics. When Eileen visits Neal, he discourages her from lending novels to the Aborigines, stating that it's not "encouraged by the Department." In this, we see that limiting what the natives are able to learn is a means by which to limit their autonomy politically. If the Aborigines cannot read, they cannot think for themselves and imagine other realities, so by limiting their literary exposure, the Department can effectively control their imaginations and abilities to imagine other realities.

In this section of the play, it would seem that Eileen is one of the few kindhearted white characters in the play, but her kindness still maintains a condescending religious attitude towards the Aborigines. While all of the other white authorities are chiefly interested in finding ways to keep down the Aborigines and keep them uninformed, Eileen makes a point of wanting to help them develop independence through education, even though it may be a narrow and white-centric one. She wants to start a library for them, and speaks out against the violence perpetrated against them and compulsory attendance at the school, suggesting that she prefers if "they come of their own free will." Unlike the others in power, Eileen wants to actually help the Indigenous population, even if she too has a very specific agenda.

Neville and the others' project is framed as a project of assimilation. In his speech to the Aborigines on Australia Day, Neville suggests that they are preparing the citizens to integrate into "Australian" society and to live on an equal basis with white people. From what we have seen in his and the others' treatment of the Aborigines, it is clear that he cares very little for their well-being and treats them much worse than he would white citizens. Additionally, the project of assimilation is a condescending one, one which suggests that the ways the Aborigines live cannot be integrated with white society. In Neville's speech, we see the profound condescension that the white bureaucrats who oversee the settlement have towards the Aborigines whom they claim to be protecting and helping.

After the tragedy of Jimmy's death, Joe finally returns, bringing wages and gifts for his family members. With economic independence, he is renewed as a man, able to provide for his family and make them happy. It is a joyful reunion; everyone is excited to see him and he is able to meet his son, whom he names Jimmy, after his father. After so much tragedy, the Millimura family experience a moment of lightness and togetherness, through their connection to one another.

The play ends with a tableau of hope: the Millimura saying goodbye to Joe as he embarks with his wife and son to start a new life somewhere else, hopefully with more autonomy than he has been granted at the reservations. After facing so much tragedy, the Millimura family is given a glimpse of a potential happy future. As they embark into the unknown future, Gran sings a traditional Aborigine song, a remnant of the history that has bolstered the family unit for so long, and will guide them now as one of their children flies the nest.