How is the concept of change explored in your prescribed text DOUGY by James Moloney? Change is a process and refers to the act or instance of becoming different. Dougy, the protagonist in James Moloney’s novel Dougy, undergoes a personal transformation of character resulting in growth, maturity and resolution. Moloney employs a range of techniques to chart the natural and positive transition Dougy experiences. Dougy tells the story of an Aboriginal boy and his journey to a positive self-identity.
It is set in a small contemporary Queensland town and recounts the racial tensions between the Aboriginal and the Anglo-Australian population. Resentment and ignorant attitudes result in a racial war, developing, rising and receeding within the parallel action of the flood. Within this framework we follow the personal changes Dougy undergoes as he adopts strategies to deal with the escalating violence and ensuing tragedy. Dougy experiences personal problems that leave him feeling worthless, hopeless and socially inadequate.
The first person narrative structure means our understanding of Dougy is shaped from his perspective. Dougy does not introduce himself until chapter two and the use of truncated sentences and the language with negative connotations establishes his low self-esteem and the lack of identity, ‘My names Dougy. I’m nobody much. ‘Dougy is critical about his physique, academic ability and social skills, demonstrated through the personal voice and repetition of ‘I’ and the emotive use of ‘still’ – ‘I’m the tallest kid in the whole school but I don’t like that much… I’ve always been skinny, specially my arms and legs’.
Dougy exposes his poor academic ability through the repetition of negative connotations towards himself and his identity. – ‘I am not good at reading and righting eh! Not much good at anything. Me I stay here in town for school, Even though I just turned thirteen, I’m still in Grade six, still in primary school. ’’ Furthermore, Dougy adopts the derogatory language of the dominant white culture in relation to his race, reinforcing his lack of positive identity, ‘eh’, ‘Abo’ and ‘boong’. The use of colloquial language makes Dougy’s predicament more realistic while encouraging compassion from the reader.
Dougy changes because of the position he is forced into as a result of the ‘war’ that breaks out between the blacks and whites. The natural elements, the heat and the river, serve as motifs for the rising and insidious racial tension simmering under the town’s surface, climaxing when a race war begins, as the river floods and submerges the town. He is forced to make decisions and act as a consequence he learns about himself and his Aboriginality. As the conflict between the whites and blacks escalate, it is entwined with the precarious flood that draws near to the hall where Dougy, Gracey and Raymond are trapped in.
Dougy is forced in a position where he put his unknown strategic abilities into needed use as the river is steadily arising threatening to drown them. Dougy’s swift thinking during the catastrophe saves the lives of his siblings, consequently active in developing positive feelings of self-worth and identity. As the devastation unfolds, Dougy’s certainty of the Moodagudda’s presence around Gracie is treated with respect as the recount during the crisis turned out to be the truth.
By the novel’s end Dougy has undergone a positive personal change. Moloney uses contrast as a key technique to shape our understanding of his transformation to a positive sense of self, value and identity. Dougy’s positive manner is publicized through decision makings towards his mother and principle, serving as a positive alteration within his sense of self. Dougy is fuelled with confidence and inspiration,’ But I said straight out,’’ Mum, I’m old enough. And I’m big enough. I want to be in high school. ’ Dougy’s self-value has been altered through his social acceptance and belongingness amongst the town’s people. ’’ I told people about seeing the Moodagudda and how it grabbed Gracie…and I knew most of them believed me. Some even came back for me to tell the story over and over again and they weren’t making fun of me like they used to do with some of the old blokes who told the story. ’’ The acceptance from his fellow people constructs a stronger connection with his Aboriginal culture and identity, ceasing the negative connotations towards his born identity. ’ So now I’m in high school after all. And at this school, there’s a mob that do the old dreamtime dances… when they heard about Gracey and me and the Moodagudda, they asked me to join. ‘’ Serving as a contrast with his earlier ignorance and suggest he will perpetuate his culture through this tradition. Therefore, change can be a positive process that occurs naturally, leading to a real sense of identity and value as evidenced in the character and novel of the same name, Dougy by James Moloney.