Encountering Conflict by ert634

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									Encountering Conflict
Written by Andrea Hayes and Frances Flanagan

Edited by Janet McCurry, Amanda Collins and Debbie de Laps
Designed and formatted by Eveline Visser

Table of contents:

Section A: Introduction to the Context .............................................................................. 3
Section B: The text in context............................................................................................. 6
  Omagh directed by Pete Travis.......................................................................................... 6
  The Crucible by Arthur Miller.............................................................................................. 8
  The Line by Arch and Martin Flanagan ............................................................................ 10
       Martin Flanagan ..................................................................................................................................10
       Weary Dunlop......................................................................................................................................11
       Arch Flanagan .....................................................................................................................................12
       Tribute to Weary..................................................................................................................................12
       Short stories ........................................................................................................................................13
   The Secret River by Kate Grenville .................................................................................. 13
       Sydney .................................................................................................................................................14
       Thornhill’s Point...................................................................................................................................14
Section C: The text at work ............................................................................................... 16
  Omagh by Pete Travis ..................................................................................................... 16
       Public meeting for families of victims.................................................................................................16
       Meeting with Gerry Adams .................................................................................................................17
       Family at home....................................................................................................................................19
   The Crucible by Arthur Miller............................................................................................ 20
       Act 1 – Parris and Proctor argue (pp.34-35) .....................................................................................20
       Act 3 – Proctor confesses to lechery (pp.97-98) ..............................................................................21
       Act 4 – Proctor tears up confession (pp.124-125) ............................................................................22
   The Line by Arch and Martin Flanagan ............................................................................ 23
       Memoir by Arch Flanagan: Cholera (pp.72-73) ................................................................................23
       Short story by Arch Flanagan (pp.133-134) ......................................................................................24
       Martin Flanagan: “so now it’s down to you and me, Dad” (pp.159-160) .........................................25
   The Secret River by Kate Grenville .................................................................................. 26
       First encounter (pp.146-147)..............................................................................................................26
       In court (pp.65-66) ..............................................................................................................................27
       Smasher’s rage (pp.233-234) ............................................................................................................28
Section C: Supplementary texts ....................................................................................... 30
  ’Gangs warn of more violence’ by Ben Doherty et al. ....................................................... 30
  Stanley McCombe Omagh: Voices of Loss by Graham Spencer ..................................... 30
  ‘Join Us In Saluting the Aussie Digger’ by D.D. McNicoll and Mark Dodd ........................ 31
  ‘Hilali's fans show the problem isn't just him’ by Andrew Bolt ........................................... 32
Section D: Student texts ................................................................................................... 33
  Narrative writing............................................................................................................... 33
       Character .............................................................................................................................................33
       Thinking about characterisation .........................................................................................................33
       Character inventories..........................................................................................................................34
       Appealing and unappealing personalities .........................................................................................35
       Additional character-based writing improvisations ...........................................................................35
   Propositions, forms and contexts: anecdotes and expositions ......................................... 35
       Thinking like an author........................................................................................................................36
   Further activities for student writing on ‘Encountering Conflict’......................................... 36

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict                                                                                                                        1
Section E: The Outcome for Area of Study 2 ................................................................... 38
  Sample assessment tasks ............................................................................................... 38
Section F: Glossary and resources .................................................................................. 40
  Resources ....................................................................................................................... 42

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict                                                                                            2
Section A: Introduction to the Context
Conflict is inevitable and something everyone encounters. Individual responses to conflict
may vary, depending on a person’s background, temperament and most significantly, the
nature of the issue. People may respond to conflict in many ways. They might for instance
respond with dignity and selfless concern for others; with tact and delicacy; with fierce
belligerence or as ‘passive aggressors’; as passionate stakeholders committed to a just
cause and prepared for martyrdom; as terrorists or freedom fighters; as appalled victims or
unwilling adversaries; as bullies; or, by trying to maintain their status as ‘innocent

The ways people react when they when they encounter conflict will be influenced by their
cultural and historical and family backgrounds, as well as by their individual experience,
temperaments and dispositions. The same individual’s response to a situation of conflict
might have differed if that person were from a different society with different cultural norms,
or perhaps belonged to a different generation or lived in a different historical period.

One way into this context for the class is to begin mapping the implications of the title,
‘Encountering Conflict’, testing out the adequacy of definitions as students brainstorm the
terms, defining ‘conflict’, the different types and levels, and teasing out what it means to
‘encounter’ these. What is the effect of including this first word in the Context’s title? Why not
simply call the Context “Conflict”? Can one ‘encounter’ conflict without being involved in it?
Does ‘encountering’ necessarily imply ‘participation in’?

Although the four texts explore different types and levels of conflict against a variety of
settings, modern and historical, there is universality. Students can relate to this context
because everyone experiences conflict of some type at some level during their lives. How we
respond when we encounter situations of conflict varies and is it worth examining why we act
as we do. The four selected texts explore personal and interpersonal conflict associated with
war, terrorism, religious authority and settling in to a new country. These events, depicted in
the four texts, also give rise to conflict that is political, religious, social and cultural. The texts
examine the causes, sometimes tragic impact and ripple effect of conflict on families,
individuals in modern Ireland, seventeenth century Salem, World War Two and Early

The story of the film Omagh (Pete Travis, 2004) is now a universal one. It is the story of Bali,
London, Baghdad, Thailand and any place that is the victim of terrorist bombings. Although
Omagh begins with a terrorist attack, the story focuses on the aftermath. It deals with the
effect on the surviving families who have to contend not only with losing their loved ones, but
also with a government so invested in the Northern Irish peace process that it is less than
enthusiastic about solving the crime, or the subsequent cover-up. Omagh personalizes the
region’s seemingly endless conflict through its focus on the Gallagher family, in particular,
Michael, the father. The historical background to the Northern Ireland conflict is one common
to many regions where groups of people with a long history of different political allegiances,
religious practices and cultural values occupy the same land (see Further reading).

The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a play that deals with conflicts involved in the Salem witch
trials of 1692. The characters in Miller’s theocratic society are not only in conflict with their
environment, the ‘barbaric frontier’, but with each other and their religious authority. Written
in the 1950s the play is an allegory and the events it describes have strong parallels with the
House of UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) led by Senator Joe McCarthy, who
conducted ‘witch-hunts’ (campaign to find or investigate people considered to be unorthodox
or disloyal) to expose communists or communist sympathisers. Miller expected to be called
before this committee and was blacklisted for refusing to name names.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict       Section A: Introduction to the Context                 3
The Line, by Arch and Martin Flanagan, recounts Australian POW experience in World War
Two. This text explores the conflict between the Australian and Japanese nations and the
resultant atrocities of war. The book does not glorify war. It does, however, offer to explain
the Prisoner of War experience, and it celebrates the importance of friendship for survival
and the effect of random acts of kindness which survived for over fifty years and are one
man’s legacy to his son. This text explores different soldiers’ experiences and Edward
‘Weary’ Dunlop’s extraordinary contribution to the survival and spirit of many. It looks at the
codes of behavior adopted by these men as they encounter conflict and how these codes
helped survivors heal years later.

It is also a moving testament to the close relationships between members of a family and the
ways in which the sensitivity of the children to their father’s feelings about his war time
experience allows them to avoid potential conflict about what can be said privately and
publicly, and tell a story that is personally important to them as well as having far more
general significance. The story is relevant to many Australian families whose fathers and
grandfathers fought for Australia overseas. It is a story of men (rather than women) and it is
about the emotional repertoires of men – Australian men – and the way they deal with and
express their feelings

Kate Grenville’s The Secret River details the conflict in early Australia between ex-convicts,
settlers and the Indigenous population of New South Wales. While the text is dedicated to
Indigenous Australians and its motivation is clear, it is also sympathetic towards the convicts
and recognizes the harshness of the lives they endured. Whereas the convicts are
determined to erase their past, the Aboriginal people are fighting to protect theirs. Kate
Grenville presents an understanding of the motivation of her ancestors yet ultimately
condemns their actions.

For each of the selected texts, students should consider and discuss
• the various protagonists’ individual responses to events
• the inner conflicts experienced by these people
• how encountering conflict manifests the strengths and weaknesses of characters
• the irrevocable changes and far-reaching consequences of conflict for individuals and

For instance, in Omagh, auto mechanic Michael Gallagher becomes the unexpected
spokesperson for the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, and seeks truth and justice on
behalf of his son Aidan who was killed in the Omagh bombing. He battles an indifferent
government, hostile police and unhelpful Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams. Gallagher
experiences conflict with his family and he becomes estranged from them as he is consumed
by the loss of his only son and ‘mate’ and the need for justice.

In The Crucible, John Proctor sacrifices his life as he battles his individual conscience, guilt
and the authority of the church.

The Line highlights through Arch’s experiences of war the huge personal sacrifices made by
individuals involved in international conflict and the ramifications through the generations as
Martin, his son, struggles to understand and adequately express his father’s and the other
POW’s experience.

Kate Grenville’s protagonist, Thornhill, ultimately gains his prized land and a future for his
family but his actions cost him dearly. He loses his second son, Dick, who moves away and
never speaks to him again.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section A: Introduction to the Context             4
For the classroom:
Discuss and take notes about the following, in small groups or as a class.

•   Define the phrase ‘encountering conflict’.
•   Levels of conflict include; inner/personal, interpersonal (between characters) and extra-
    personal (conflict with environment and institutions). Give examples of each of these
    from personal experience or previous study
•   Brainstorm and list as many types of conflict as you can
•   List causes of conflict.
•   How might individuals respond as they encounter conflict?
•   What are the consequences or impact of conflict on communities and individuals within
    them, including within families?
•   How are conflicts resolved? What impact might different solutions to conflict have on
•   Is conflict inevitable?
•   Is there always a solution?

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section A: Introduction to the Context           5
Section B: The text in context
Omagh directed by Pete Travis
Omagh is a disturbing, dramatic film that deals with the aftermath of a terrorist attack in
Northern Ireland. On August 15, 1998, a bomb set by an outfit calling itself the ‘Real IRA’ (a
radical separatist group) went off on the busy High Street in the small town of Omagh,
Northern Ireland, killing 29 people and wounding hundreds of others. The bombing occurred
at the height of politically sensitive negotiations between Sinn Fein and the British
government in defiance of the Good Friday Peace agreement signed by the IRA.

Travis reveals the many layers of conflict in his film including the ongoing “troubles” in
Northern Ireland, the political conflict experienced while trying to effect a resolution (Peace
process), the interpersonal conflict among the victims’ families and the inner conflict
experienced by Michael Gallagher as he grieves for his dead son.

Told from the point of view of the Gallagher family, Travis explores the levels of conflict the
victims’ families face and as they encounter an indifferent government, hostile police,
unhelpful Gerry Adams (leader of Sinn Fein party) who refuse to jeopardize the peace
agreement by failing to properly investigate the bombing. As the protagonist, Michael
Gallagher says to Gerry Adams, “How can we build a peaceful Ireland unless you help us
bring these killers to justice?” and this is the central argument of the film.

Travis affects the ‘fly-on-the-wall’ convention of the documentary genre by using
handheld camera, natural lighting and framing of camera shots through doorways in his
dramatic recount. This enables him to represent the human experience in a grimly realistic
manner that emphasizes the tragedy of the bomb and the injustice the families of the victims
face afterwards. His use of ‘ordinary’ sets, iconography and unknown actors (with the
exception of Gerald McSorley who plays the protagonist, Michael Gallagher) add to the
impression of authenticity.

Although students do not require a detailed knowledge of Irish history they do need to
understand that the historical background to the Northern Ireland conflict is one common to
many countries, that is, groups of people with different political allegiances, religious
practices and cultural values, occupying the same land over a long historical period (see
Further reading for an excellent and accessible website).

Ireland was partitioned in 1921 the southern twenty-six counties gained independence from
Britain while the six North-East counties remained part of the United Kingdom. The Unionists
are largely Catholic and desire a United Ireland, devoid of British rule while the Nationalists
are largely Protestant and want continued British rule. The result of this conflict is endemic
violence (“Troubles”) which has included 1960s Civil Rights movement, IRA campaign of
violence against army, internment, Bloody Sunday and the Omagh bombing.

Steps towards the Peace process include announcements and collapses of ceasefires and
the Peace Agreement April 10, 1998. The process continued and resulted in IRA ending their
‘armed campaign’ July 2005 and their decommissioning of weapons in September 2005.
Currently Unionists and Nationalists in Northern Ireland experience an ‘imperfect peace’. At
the time of writing ‘both Northern Ireland’s politicians had agreed to a power-sharing
government to begin on May 8, 2007’ (The Age 28/03/07 p.14).

Travis personalizes this political, religious and cultural conflict by focusing on the profound
effects the bombing has on the Gallagher family who lose their son Aidan. His
characterization of his protagonist, Michael, an auto mechanic and Aidan’s father, represents

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section B: The text in context                     6
the ‘ordinary man’ whose softly spoken and calm demeanour brings integrity to the cause.
Travis shows through the character development of Michael, initially a reluctant speaker who
becomes chair of the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, a brave commitment to battle
political conflict and to attempt to bring the terrorists to justice.

Michael could easily be someone we know and the viewer admires him because he seeks
justice, not revenge, and his flaws are so human. Consumed by the death of his son he stops
working, works tirelessly for the support group. He neglects the rest of his family and his
daughter accuses him of neglect saying ‘you should be here daddy, looking after us’. Travis
reveals the inner turmoil suffered by Michael as he describes his relationship with Aidan
telling his wife, “Inside I feel he meant more to me and I know that’s awful but I know how
much you loved him but I can’t help the way I feel.” The Gallagher family could easily be any
family and their ordinariness evokes strong sympathy from viewer.

The opening wide camera shots capture the ordinary people of Omagh, families,
shopkeepers and school children caught in the reality of a tragic event and Travis clearly
positions the viewer to sympathise with them. The opening ten minutes of the film shows the
notion of a bomb scare to be commonplace among citizens of Northern Ireland and they go
about their usual business while the police erect barriers. Here, agonising tension is creates
by the documentary style camera work which shows ordinary people in High St opening up
for business intercut with partial shots of bombers’ arms and legs, with minimal dialogue
while they expertly assemble the bomb. Travis is suggesting to the viewer just how endemic
this political and cultural conflict is in Northern Ireland.

Travis offers no insight to the bombers’ point of view. They are depicted as cruel and
merciless as they plant the bomb calculated to cause maximum casualties. His
condemnation of the governments, police and various parties is clearly conveyed in the
interviews with the insincere Chief constable and Gerry Adams who mouths platitudes
leaving the viewer in no doubt that the authorities are self serving and corrupt.

Snippets of dialogue throughout the film refer to the long history of conflict between parties.
Travis exposes the cruel irony as the authorities are in conflict with the very people they are
professing to help. He shows their calculated indifference to the victims’ plight and that, in
reality, they do nothing as they do not want to jeopardize the Peace Agreement. By doing
this Travis demonstrates to the viewer the layers of conflict associated with the long-held
animosity. This is reiterated in the scene where the Police Ombudsman gives her report (see
Further Reading) to the victims’ families and tells them that “the victims, you their families,
the people of Omagh as well as the officers of the RUC have been let down by leadership,
poor judgement and lack of urgency. And, as a result the chance of obtaining and convicting
the Omagh bombers has extremely reduced.” This honest appraisal offers some resolution
but the final shots, together with haunting music and factual titles revealing numerous
arrests yet no conviction, further exemplify the tragic outcome. Compare this scene to the
earlier one involving the Chief Commisioner and Gerry Adams. How does the director
suggest that the Ombudsmen is more genuine in her response?

But it is not all bleak. Travis, in the final scene of Michael’s press conference, shows the
families’ commitment to the memory of their lost loved ones, their brave response to the
conflict and the resilient voice and commitment of human solidarity that refuses to be
victimised or silenced by political authorities. He demonstrates that some degree of
resolution has been attained. Michael Gallagher’s last speech demands that individuals voice
a commitment against such atrocities and that we insist that justice be pursued, no matter
what the circumstances.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section B: The text in context                     7
For the classroom:
• Research and present a brief account of the current situation of the age-old conflict in
    Northern Ireland.
• Read the Ombudsman’s report (see Further reading) and present a summary to the
• View the final shots of the film and discuss what is revealed in the titles in the light of a
    resolution to the conflict.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller’s historical, dramatic play, The Crucible, was written during the McCarthy era
and is about the infamous with-hunts that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1694. It is
an allegorical tale of religious persecution and Miller drew parallels between the witch-hunts
in Salem and modern America and used the theatre to explore conflict and present his point
of view about freedom of the individual within an autocratic society.

In his play he shows that when an individual questions the dominant values of a society in
which he or she lives, tragic conflict can occur. His protagonist, John Proctor’s personal
values of reason and factual truth, come into conflict with Salem’s dominant values of
community harmony and conformity – much like Miller’s did in the 1950s and House of
UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC)led by Senator Joe McCarthy. Miller says in his
introductory notes that ‘The witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in
among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom.’

It is important that students know that in the seventeenth century, witchcraft was a part of the
orthodox thinking, just as the left and right wing approaches were to communism in the
1950s. They need to know that Salem is a theocracy, that is, a community which believes
that God is the highest power and that religious laws and laws of the state are one. “..this is a
court of law. The law, based on the Bible, and the Bible, writ by Almighty God” (p92) explains
Deputy-Governor Danforth. In Salem’s theocractic rule the representatives are godlike
figures of authority and not to be crossed or questioned but they are insecure in their
authority and status and cannot admit to error – which brings them into conflict with honest
Salem citizens and the deceiving girls. They demand that John Proctor surrender his good
name and agree to their version of events- that he knows to be false – in order to save his

In the 1950s Miller was seen to be a ‘communist sympathiser’, blacklisted and expected to
be brought before the House of UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) led by Senator
Joe McCarthy. Just as Proctor comes to see that reason fails to protect himself and his wife
so too did Miller.

In Australia, although being a member of the communist party was not illegal, a referendum
was held about whether it should be made an illegal organization. Elections were contested
over the ‘communist menace’ and the ‘Petrov Affair’ gained considerable media coverage
(see Further reading).

There are many layers of conflict present in the play. Miller, in his introductory notes,
describes the citizens of Salem as a ‘sect of fanatics’ suffering from inter personal conflict in
the form of ‘long-held hatred’, ‘land-lust’, revenge, ‘suspicion’ and ‘envy’. As a group they are
in constant conflict with the harsh land, the heathen Indians and the Devil, whom they
believed to be lurking everywhere. John Proctor is in conflict with the religious authority in the
form of Reverend Parris who appears more interested in saving money than souls.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section B: The text in context                          8
Like the great tragic heroes, his protagonist John Proctor is a good man, flawed and
brought down by his moment of weakness. He suffers inner turmoil as a result of his lust and
guilt for his affair with the servant Abigail and is in conflict with his wife Elisabeth, Goody
Proctor, for betraying their marriage and religious conflict against his church’s Puritan
teachings. But John Proctor is a ‘good man’ and a courageous individual who challenges the
traditional authority of the time with grave consequences. His conscience prevents him from
lying, from tarnishing his good name and ultimately leads to his death. Miller positions the
audience to believe that it is better to forfeit one’s life for principles than to avoid conflict by
agreeing to what is a lie.

Miller’s play clearly empathises with the accused and persecuted but he is also intrigued by
the motivations and actions of those in positions of power. How can the representatives of
religious authority condone such large-scale injustices? Miller is saying that these
representatives are responsible for the creation of conflict.

In his introductory notes he explains this paradox: ‘for good purposes, even high purposes,
the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combination of state and religious power
whose function was to keep the community together and to prevent any kind of disunity that
might open it up to destruction by material or ideological enemies. But all organization is and
must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition, just as two objects cannot occupy
the same space. The repressions of the order were heavier than seemed warranted by the
dangers against which the order was organised.’

Miller explores this paradox through his characterisation of the religious figures Parris and
Deputy Governor Danforth and, in particular, the character development of Reverend Hale.
The Puritan minister Parris is not respected by the locals and despised by Proctor and
portrayed as self-interested while Danforth, representative of ‘the highest court of the
supreme government’ is arrogant and blindly resolute in his mission to uphold God’s law and
creates more conflict. Miller shows Danforth to be a victim of his own dogmatism and power,
a merciless man who thinks that the reasoning, “confess yourself or you will hang” will elicit
the truth. It is only the character of Reverend Hale who displays conscience and courage and
is shown by Miller to develop from believer to guilt-ridden sceptic saying that “there is blood
on my head” (p.114). But even he is powerless against this authority.

Miller’s detailed notes and stage directions add much to the dialogue by way of context and
characterisation and alert the reader to Miller’s point of view about such characters before
they speak. These directions are, of course, Miller’s guidelines for directors and actors and
students should test them out as they read passages from the play and experiment with
different tones of voice and body language, to explore the ways different meaning can be
made from the script. The language of Miller’s play is rich in imagery and metaphor with its
title, The Crucible, referring to a heat resistant cup used for melting or changing a substance
by exposing it to a high temperature. This is a metaphor for what happened late seventeenth
century in Salem as the characters were changed by the pressures brought to bear on them
and among these changes and conflict the truth was lost.

For the classroom:
• Research the Petrov Affair (see Further reading) and identify the types and levels of
    conflict. Discuss people’s different responses to the situation of conflict.
• Read the introductory notes by Arthur Miller and discuss how the events of the 1950s
    influenced his writing of The Crucible.
• Discuss and offer reasons why you think his play was not well-received by many in
    America when it first opened. How does the title relate to the idea of the inevitability of

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict     Section B: The text in context                        9
The Line by Arch and Martin Flanagan
There are two distinct voices within this text, telling parts of the same complex story. Arch
Flanagan, who as a Prisoner of War spent time working on the Thai-Burma Railway Line
(called ‘the line’ by those who survived the experience) wrote four of the pieces over a period
of time and was encouraged to publish them by his children, Martin and his sisters. Martin
recognised in his father’s economical writing ‘something…created in the spaces between [the
words]…the closest thing to a dreaming song that I possess…” Martin Flanagan is deeply
aware of his heritage from his father, his dreaming song. He comments that he is ‘of his line’
and the play on words underlines the fundamental significance of the Thai-Burma Railway
experience in his father’s life while recognizing its profound influence on Arch’s children- the
effect rippling through the generations of family. Both these ideas are indicated in the title of
the book.

The sections written by Arch Flanagan are presented in different forms; a memoir, an
obituary, and two short stories. The audience for Arch Flanagan’s writing is not clear cut. The
reader gets the feeling that had Arch Flanagan not been pushed these texts may have
stayed within the family. However, in published form, this writing has a very general audience
and is accessible to a variety of people. Martin writes sections expressly for the reader’s
edification; however, there are also extensive sections addressed directly to ‘Dad’. While
these passages are very personal, it is in these moments that the reader is able to grasp
something of the positive and negative far-reaching effects of conflict and the delicacy with
which Martin negotiated his relationship with his father and his professional responsibilities
as a journalist, recognising and responding to this potential conflict of interest with tact and
intelligence, but most of all with complete respect for his father’s experience and integrity: ‘a
son who came to understand the centrality of that experience to his own life as well as his
father’s.’ When Martin read his father’s writing he had ‘already been on tour with Weary’,
going ‘back to the line with a group of old diggers’ and written about this experience and the
things he had learnt from the men about that time. His father

    “…didn’t comment on what I’d written for the newspaper; instead he suddenly appeared
    by the car window…and said something like, “I read the articles you wrote on the
    railway’. He didn’t say I got it right. He didn’t say I got it wrong. He didn’t say. But then
    from his viewpoint how odd must these words have appeared. Suddenly his son was
    walking through the landscape of his worst memories with a group of men he had known
    half a lifetime before. What exactly would his son be told of what occurred? And how
    would it resonate with his own experience?”

It is through Martin and Arch Flanagan’s accounts that the reader gains a sense of what it is
to encounter conflict on such a grand scale and the immense humanity and strength that is
required to endure and overcome such tragedy. The conflicts presented are evident on many
differing levels: the physicality of war, the clash of cultures in the camps, the differing
responses to ‘home’, the contrast between memories and a wartime present, identities
forged in war that cannot fit into Australian society afterwards, and most importantly the
ripple effect through generations of people.

Martin Flanagan

Martin weaves language around his father’s stories. He fills gaps, explains how the lessons
learnt by his father in the most ugly conflict can help with daily battles. Arch, Martin tells us, is
a man of few words. There are stories about Arch told by other men of the line that Arch
denies. The reader comes to understand that this is not a case of lying or bending the truth; it
is just what happens along the way. Martin spends time discussing belief systems; faith, in its
traditional sense and the quality which he has observed in his father for so many years;

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict      Section B: The text in context                        10
humanity (a faith structure of its own) borne out of his father’s experience as a child at home,
in the classroom, and more importantly at war. It is through his observations and, in
particular, through discussion of Arch’s belief systems, that Martin Flanagan contends to his
readers that it is one’s ability to move through conflict with humanity that defines success.
Arch Flanagan, in the eyes of his son has a ‘beautiful dreaming’, and it is this that has
enabled him to cope as he encountered one of the ugliest of conflicts possible and its

In 1938, Martin explains, Arch was sent to Sheffield to teach. Arch is the first member of the
family to receive an education and this creates some conflict because his stance on the
world and its affairs is well-informed. Martin is at pains to point out the massive opening up of
the world that the young rural Tasmanian would have experienced, especially during the war
years as international borders began to disintegrate. Arch’s education resulted in his feeling
compelled to go to war and in this sense that it is implied that knowledge is powerful and can
force one into conflict.

Students should be encouraged to identify sections of Martin’s writing where he expresses
sensitivity to his father’s response to his own writing. Martin is a journalist and his public
writings about matters that relate to the experience of members of his family must sometimes
present him with difficult decisions about content.

Weary Dunlop

Martin recalls realizing he was meeting a hero when he met Dunlop, one of Australia’s
greatest soldiers. He relates his feelings when watching The Bridge Over The River Kwai
with Weary and his awareness of the irony of the situation. Arch and Martin record
memories of Weary: of conflict, injuries, despair, brutality, bravery and the potentially
consuming nature of hate. Dunlop’s is the tragedy of a great soldier whose experience at one
point in history is greater than the entirety of the rest of his existence. Weary, the reader is
told, never avoided conflict, particularly with his Japanese captors, and this meant that he
saved many lives. His bravery in the face of adversity makes the audience admire him
deeply. In The Line, the reader learns of other great soldiers, the loyalty of Blue Butterworth
and the friendship and inextricable bonds that grew out of this worst imaginable conflict. Tom
Uren’s life in politics is linked with these experiences, but it is through Ray Parkin’s insight
that ‘life isn’t romantic’ that the price of conflict is felt by readers as we realize the gravity and
enormity of such a realization for a young man. We begin to understand that much of the
knowledge and insights that these men gained through conflict was uninvited and unwanted
and changed them irrevocably.

Martin Flanagan has not experienced war like the other people in this book, yet he does so in
another way and there is the potential for conflict here too. Martin goes to great lengths to get
“it” right – whatever it may be. He details speaking to those that were there and seeking their
approval. He recognises the need for this respect and willingly pays it. Whilst life in the
trenches is not romantic, Martin manages to put light into dark events and his portrayal of a
story of old men romanticising their past gives the reader an opportunity to understand why
they might present horrific experience in this way.

The last of Martin’s contributions is directly addressed to ‘Dad’. It discusses growing up with
an old soldier as a father, and as a man getting to know him. This section is primarily
concerned with the ripple effects of conflict. It hints at Arch Flanagan’s great ability to evolve
past the experience and it talks of other men who Martin met at a reunion. It also
predominantly discusses integrity and the conduct of those since they have returned, and the
importance of this in overcoming such a conflict. There is inherent conflict between the
behaviour of those who have made up stories since returning and the distinct writing style of
Arch Flanagan. Martin demonstrates the level of respect which should be attributed to these
Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict      Section B: The text in context                         11
men and reasons why we should go trying to understand everything that they have given up,
since ‘Fiction means freedom’.

Arch Flanagan

Essay #1: Cleveland
Arch Flanagan tells the reader in his prologue that this is ‘worth his memory’. The purpose of
this early recollection is to provide strong contrast with the later sections of the book and the
brutality of war. It is through Arch Flanagan’s discussion of his family, childhood and
innocence that the reader can later appreciate the extreme contrast of the war experiences.
Arch is motivated to join the war by the belief that Hitler was threatening civilization. This is
an educated belief which puts him at odds with others in his family.

Essay #2: The War Years
Arch Flanagan details the excitement and tragedy of war – World War I is discussed as a
lesson but World War 2 is introduced with the flourish to sign up. However, this conflicts with
the reality of signing up and the realization that ‘My whole life was suddenly transformed’
(p.31). Early Army life is remembered fondly with friendships and delights in smaller parts of
life; however, there is always the suggestion of the underlying fear for the future. For many
men there is joy in the new world; food, sea travel, the mainland, happy camps, and global
travel. But this is contrasted with the reality of Army discipline, in particular the incident of the
Fremantle letters. Yet there is also the excitement “Come on, you bastards, you wanted
action: you’ve got it. Hurry! Hurry!” (pp.41-42). Conflicting with the hard reality of it all is the
importance of familiarity, and friendly competitiveness as in the trench games of sport for
which the results are still recalled years later.

A variety of anecdotes detail the harsh reality of a seemingly lost conflict once the men are
captured. The Faith of POWs plays a fundamental role here too, with some prisoners asking
“How long, Dear Lord, how long” (p.65), and others finding a new faith in Christmas day and
all the promises it brings. In this section of the book, Arch attributes the greatest bravery to
the cholera orderlies, facing death whilst being in health themselves. Their choice to work as
they do amazes Arch Flanagan and the simple heroism of these men is thrown into relief by
stories of day-by-day survival that are being portrayed. Arch Flanagan goes to some lengths
to accurately portray camp life and importantly, the soldiers. Their bravery is celebrated as in
the face of such hardship and adversity they remain hopeful and refuse to surrender their
sense of humour or humanity. The reader realises that for the prisoners it is traditional values
of Australian mateship that provide daily reminders of home and the reasons the men were
fighting. In the face of conflict, the reader learns, it is a sense of belonging and the small acts
of kindness and bravery, like those of the cholera orderlies, that provide the captured with a
means of survival.

The largest and most obvious conflict presented in this book is that between the Japanese
and the Australian soldiers. This is a clash of cultures; it is the distinction between
perpetrator and victim; and during bleak periods a conflict between humanity and inhumanity.
Whilst Arch does not dwell on this, it is for the reader the most startling conflict as all the
innocence and frivolity depicted in the earlier sections of the text dissipates and the reality of
war meets the reader, to startle and alarm.

Tribute to Weary

Arch Flanagan’s tribute to Weary is in the form of an obituary. It tells of Weary the soldier and
details his conflict with the English, who belittled his men. It highlights his fearlessness and
how the rewards for this conflict with the costs. The obituary reflects on a snippet of lifetime
where a man was at his best (and was never to reach such heights again in his life after the
war, as Martin attests later in the book.) Importantly, this section illustrates how lucky those
Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict      Section B: The text in context                        12
who served under Weary Dunlop were to have him and how proud they are of him. It is this
retrospective look at a war hero that cements for the reader a sense of the life-long effects of
both physical and inner conflict.

Short stories

The central theme throughout Arch Flanagan’s short stories is love. In particular the reader
gets a sense that love is sacred, whether it is between friends or directed towards someone
at home. Arch recognises how the small gestures created by love contrast with the larger
ones generated by hate, but significantly it is love that wins. Arch focuses our attention on
the pointlessness of struggling to survive if one is then to live a solitary life.

For the classroom:
• Read an entry of Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop’s War Diary. Comment on the language that he
    uses and the way he presents conflict. Compare this with Arch’s writing.
• Download the Echo online material dealing with the Cronulla Beach riot of 2006. Define
    what type of conflict it was, how it was encountered, what lessons can be learnt from it
    and how it was resolved.
• How do the two authors of The Line view conflict? Are their views identical? Are you
    aware of differences between them? Discuss the advantages presented by two authors
    telling the one story

The Secret River by Kate Grenville
Kate Grenville’s The Secret River can be broadly divided into three sections: those that deal
with the characters’ experiences in England, Sydney, and Thornhill’s Point. As this is a novel
regarding the conflict of space, place and identity and the relationship between the three, it is
an easy way to divide it, but also allows distinct comparisons to be made. It is also important
to note that intrinsic to these ideas is the notion of culture, and it is cross-cultural conflict that
Grenville is primarily concerned with.


In this setting the reader is introduced to William Thornhill and his future wife Sally. It is also
in England that the reader first gains an understanding of the conflict existing between
classes. Knowledge of Thornhill’s hunger and poverty prompts the reader to feel some
sympathy for him and later understand his craving for land and the conflict he encounters
because of it.

The injustice of the daily choices a young boy has to make for his family and later, for his
wife and child, further evoke an understanding within the reader. It is an unfortunate
existence, the nadir of which takes place within a courtroom as he receives the death

In England Grenville introduces the first of many instances of gender conflict. Sal is brave in
the face of her husband’s death sentence and moreover it is her strength that saves him.
Thornhill’s realisation that she is strong and perhaps the leader of the family gives him hope.
Sal’s strength and power over Thornhill is continually suggested. In this way Grenville
illustrates that it is a strength of character, and later an ability to keep one’s dreams small,
that allows one to successfully engage in conflict. Sal later recognises the threat her family is
posing to another and is outraged that she has been forced so into this situation. The reader
responds positively to Sal because of her ability to identify the family as having paramount
importance regardless of culture.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict      Section B: The text in context                         13

The gender conflict is reinforced as Thornhill is assigned to his wife as her convict labourer.
Sal and Thornhill live happily early in their Sydney experience; however, it is an isolated one.
Grenville is quick to make the distinction between convicts and settlers and the underlying
tension between the two groups. It is also in this section of the novel that the reader is first
introduced to an Indigenous Australian character – and in turn Grenville points out the
underlying conflict between alcohol and culture. Thornhill and Sal’s decision to steal alcohol
from his employer and run the Sign of the Pickled Herring – a clear and distinct conflict
between home and their imprisonment in Australia – is in contrast with the reader’s
amazement at his second chance at life, yet the reader remembers all too well how familiar
poverty and starvation are to the Thornhill family.

In Sydney Sal again challenges Thornhill, this time regarding the issue of moving to their own
land – “No, she said. I ain’t coming at it, Will, and that’s flat”(p.110), attributed to her ‘dreams
ha[ving] stayed small and cautious, being of nothing grander than the London they had left’
(p.111). This is in direct juxtaposition with his changed ambitions in life: ‘Thornhill’s Point. It
was a piercing hunger in his guts: to own it. To say mine, in a way that he had never been
able to say mine of anything at all.’ (p.106). As the chasm grows between the two main
characters so too does a silence regarding desires that is maintained throughout the text.
Their different experiences and backgrounds in London have meant that their desires in
Australia are also very different. It is here that Grenville suggests that it is not just a
difference in culture that can lead to conflict but a difference in perspectives too. This is an
idea that is elaborated on later in the text through Blackwood.

Thornhill’s Point

This is the name of the land that Thornhill declares belongs to him, just off the secret river.
The conflict that occurs here is more blatant in its portrayal than in any of the other locations.
It is also far more physical, the familial tension is stronger and as a result the conflict is
inevitable, but it is in Thornhill’s inner conflict that the reader is shown the complexities and
challenges he faces, and the extent to which conflict is all consuming.

The most obvious conflict is between the Indigenous Australians and the white characters
(both free settlers and convicts). Grenville highlights this by choosing to have her characters
call the Indigenous Australians ‘blacks’ or ‘savages’. The conflict that exists is over land;
however, intrinsically linked to this are issues of identity, belonging, cultural differences and
understandings and for Thornhill a chance at success. This conflict dominates this section of
the novel and manifests itself in different ways within different characters; however, ultimately
in the male characters it becomes a physical conflict, an all consuming one, with victims on
all sides of the dispute. It is in this light that Grenville suggests that fundamental loss that is
experienced through conflict, regardless of culture or perspective.

In The Secret River, the land represents money and a future for the characters of English
descent (the obvious exception to this is Blackwood). This contrasts sharply with its meaning
for the Indigenous Australian characters, as the land represents their capacity to survive in
the present, their future and also their past. Some reconciliation between the cultures has
occurred since the resident ‘hard’ man Blackwood lives in harmony with the original
inhabitants of the land. However, this leads to conflict amongst the new settlers as some
believe it to be treachery. Whilst Thornhill receives a full pardon and is regarded legally as a
free man he is reminded on a return trip to Sydney that the gentry will always regard him as a
convict. It is therefore the conflict between his past and the existing freedom he has at
Thornhill’s Point which motivates him to fight for the land, despite the cost.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict     Section B: The text in context                        14
The reader is positioned to feel the ultimate outcome for Thornhill is a victory – but his life
has been hard and he has suffered greatly. Thornhill’s second son (incidentally the first
member of the family to be born in Australia) never speaks to his father again. Thornhill
never quite feels at home on his successful property and it is this cost which plagues him
until his death.

For the classroom:
• In groups, discuss how the three different landscapes reflect the different kinds of conflict
    in the text. What role does the environment play in conveying conflict?
• Research European Colonisation in Victoria. What type of conflicts occurred between
    Indigenous Australians and European settlers? How was it similar to the conflict
    presented by Grenville in The Secret River? What differences were there?
• When John Batman arrived in the Port Phillip District (now Melbourne), he is reported to
    have declared “All that I see is mine, all that I don’t see is my son’s”. Discuss with
    references to The Secret River why a statement such as this would (and did) cause

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section B: The text in context                     15
Section C: The text at work
Omagh by Pete Travis
Please note:
This is a film text and teachers need to discuss stylistic features with reference not only to
written language (dialogue) but to the visual language of film which includes cinematic
techniques like; camera shots, size and movement, lighting, iconography, soundtrack
and editing.

It is important to remind the students that, although Travis uses some documentary
conventions, Omagh is a dramatic recount and not a documentary film. It may help to
revise documentary conventions with students (see Further reading).

At the time of writing, the script for Omagh, a film made for TV, was not available and the
DVD did not provide any scene titles. Selected scenes are located using a time reference.

Public meeting for families of victims
Time: 40 mins: 48 secs – 44 mins 30 secs

This scene takes place in a public venue, The Royal Arms, in Omagh two months after the
bombing where the families of the victims of the bombing have gathered for a meeting. At the
start of the scene Travis (director) shows the families to be in conflict with one another and
the authorities as they voice their anger and frustration about the lack of progress to catch
and bring the bombers to justice. The protagonist, Michael Gallagher, delivers a speech
urging them to unite in their bid for justice and he emerges as a leader of the Omagh Self
Help and Support Group.

The register of the dialogue component of this extract is informal, even though it takes place
in public.

Travis deliberately evokes a documentary style with natural lighting, handheld and ‘fly-
on-the-wall’ camera work to create a sense of authenticity and provide a powerful medium
for his point of view about the bombing and the conflicting responses. The absence of music
emphasises the dialogue as the characters argue. The set, costumes and make-up reflect
the ordinariness of the victims’ families. It is a common venue and the cast wear a variety of
working and casual clothes that characterize them as mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers
of the victims. His cast, with the exception of Gerald McSorley, who plays Michael Gallagher,
are essentially unknown actors and ‘ordinary people’, further suggesting authenticity, and
intrinsic to the documentary feel.

The initial tone of the scene is argumentative and Travis shows this by people shouting and
interrupting one another using overlapping dialogue and unfinished sentences. It reflects
the heightened emotions. The register of the dialogue is public and informal and also
provides the viewer with the facts that are the source of the families’ frustrations and anger.
By including facts such as, ‘High Street reopened’, ‘compensation not worth anything’ and
‘thirty-eight people arrested and released’ combined with close-ups as families of victims
voice their private pain, Travis firmly positions the viewer on the side of the victims’ families.
There is a lot of interpersonal conflict as they argue amongst themselves – revealing not
hatred for one another but hurt at their sudden loss and their frustration at the unseen enemy
and the indifferent politicians.

The line ‘As long as bombs stay out of London they don’t give a damn, don’t care’ reveals to
the viewer a sense of helplessness as well as another level of conflict that is political. Here

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict         Section C: The text at work                     16
Travis uses dialogue that brings Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Britain versus Ireland and the
Peace Process into the argument and highlights to the viewer the essential back story to the
political conflict. This can be explored as an extrapersonal level of conflict that these
characters encounter.

Travis portrays his protagonist, Michael Gallagher, as a reluctant hero who is compelled to
speak at the meeting despite his being, as he readily admits ‘not very good at public
speaking’. Travis’ message here is that anyone, anytime may be have to fulfil the role of
spokesperson and advocate for a cause that they care about.

Through this characterization of Gallagher, the local, working class auto mechanic, Travis
personalizes the loss. He combines close-ups of Gallagher with reaction shots of the others
while he speaks. The self-deprecating Gallagher has a calm demeanour, which works to
quieten the crowd. Gallagher’s language is inclusive as it repeats ‘we’ in his shot, persuasive
speech, ‘we’re not going to get anywhere if we shout at each other.’ He verbalizes Travis’
position that fighting against the conflict is not productive and that they need to find a better
way of dealing with the conflict. His words are simple and heartfelt. They reveal him as one
of them, a grieving father first and foremost who wants justice for his son’s death. He is
honest, self-deprecating and shares their pain. He never uses the words, ‘revenge’ or
‘avenge’. His words are persuasive and resolve the interpersonal conflict between the
families of the victims.

Using a wide shot of the crowd clapping, Travis shows in this scene how Gallagher’s words
calm the conflict in the hall, unite the families of the victims and give them focus, helping
them to move forward and hope.

Travis, in his final scene of Michael’s press conference, shows the families’ commitment to
the memory of their lost loved ones, their brave response to the conflict and the resilient
voice and commitment of human solidarity that refuses to be victimised or silenced by
political authorities.

For the classroom:
• Describe the types and levels of conflict in this scene.
• What view of the victims’ families’ conflict does Travis present to the viewer and how
    does he achieve this?
• How does the cinematic style of Travis position the viewer to sympathise with the
• How does Travis portray Michael Gallagher’s reaction to the conflict and how does the
    viewer react to this portrayal?

Meeting with Gerry Adams
Time: 53mins 25 secs – 58 mins 17 secs

This scene is a meeting between Lawrence Rush, Michael Gallagher (representing the
Omagh Support group) and Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein leader, representing a political party
affiliated with the bombers) at a heavily guarded house during the day. In this scene
Gallagher has a list of bombers’ names and asks Adams for help in arresting the bombers.
Travis has the character Lawrence reveal the conflict between the members the Omagh Self-
help and Support Group about their speaking to Gerry Adams at all just before they enter the
room. Further conflict unfolds between Adams and Gallagher as Adams claims he is unable
to help and Gallagher realizes that Adams will sacrifice the victims of the Omagh bombing in
order to avoid “jeopardize[ing] the peace process”. In this scene Travis also reveals
Gallagher’s personal conflict as talks about the murder of his brother by the IRA and now his

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section C: The text at work                         17
Wide shots of body guards, reveal the heavy security surrounding Gerry Adams in an out-of-
the-way location and the importance of his position and also reflects Sinn Fein’s secretive
way of dealing with the conflict in which they are heavily implicated.

The register of the language of this extract is private and informal when Gallagher is
conversing with Lawrence Rush at the start of the scene. This is done in whispers, “members
wouldn’t come on principle” and “upset the whole group”. This highlights some members of
the group’s conflict. However, the tone becomes more formal when they speak to Gerry
Adams accompanied with a sense of urgency by Gallagher’s direct question, “Do you know
any of these names?”

Travis very clearly indicates his point of view about Gerry Adams’ role in the political conflict
surrounding the Omagh bombing and the government parties involved in the Northern Irish
peace process as he shows Adams in close-up, voicing platitudes like, “I’m here to help if
it’s possible…these people are as much our enemies as yours…make sure the peace
process keeps moving forward, put the past behind us,” but offering no real assistance.

Travis reveals Gallagher’s honesty, in stark contrast to Adams’ insincerity in both his
language and performance and firmly positions the viewer to consider Adams as another
indifferent politician with his own agenda. Travis contrasts Adams’ ‘politician-speak’ and
insincere manner with Gallagher’s direct action of interrupting his speech, handing him a list
and asking him directly, “Do you know any of these names?”. Gallagher recites the names
from memory reflecting the importance and intense nature of the subject of the meeting for
the Omagh support group. Adams cuts him off with a dismissive and an uncharacteristically
short reply, “I don’t know em” revealing his refusal to be of help.

Travis uses ever-tighter close-ups of Gallagher and the reaction shots of a stony faced
Adams as Gallagher recounts to Adams, in simple language, the murder of his brother by the
IRA. Not only does this explain to the viewer his earlier concern about his group members’
unease but also his refusal to shake hands with Gerry Adams. At this point the viewer feels
profound sympathy for Gallagher who has lost his brother and now only son to Irish terrorists,
particularly as Gallagher has been established as a sincere, plain-speaking character.

Gallagher pleads for justice and uses the words “murder” and “killers” in a calm manner,
although the viewer would perhaps forgive him any outrage, given his situation. Travis uses
an extreme close-up of Gallagher’s face as he directly questions Adams, “but how can we
build a peaceful Northern Ireland until you help us bring these killers to justice?”. This
question cuts to the heart of the film’s message and Travis’ point of view about the tragic
event. Gallagher uses inclusive language – including Adams and the citizens of Omagh
and the Irish people in his first person plural pronoun ‘we’, when he asks this all-important
question yet Travis reveals in Adams’ reply, “we cannot jeopardize the peace process”, that
his use of the same pronoun excludes many of those people.

For the classroom:
• Describe the conflict between Gerry Adams and Michael Gallagher in this scene.
• Describe Michael Gallagher’s personal conflict in this scene and how it is revealed.
• What view of Gerry Adams does Travis present to the viewer and how does he achieve
    this using dialogue and visual language?
• How does Travis convey the conflict between some members of the Omagh Self-help
    Support group about their meeting with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams?
• What are the key messages about conflict being conveyed in this scene?

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section C: The text at work                         18
Family at home
Time: 1hr 12mins 09secs – 1hr 14mins

This scene takes place at the Gallagher kitchen at night and reveals the ramifications of the
death of Aidan and how his death has caused family conflict. The conflict is initiated by Cathy
who has been away at school, and has come home to a household where her mother stays
in bed, her sister is silent and her father absent at meetings most of the time. She is angry
and outspoken about what she perceives as her father’s neglect of his family. Michael is
devastated by her reaction.

The tone is in this scene is both argumentative as Cathy accuses her father of neglecting his
family and one suggesting desperation and loss, as firstly Michael is defensive, then deeply
saddened. The register is private and informal evinced by silences and few words spoken by
the family at home contrasted with Cathy’s accusatory questions and comments.

This very dramatic scene begins with ordinary neighbourhood atmospheric sounds of dogs
barking and gates and doors opening. The location is working class Ireland and initial shots
show rows of similar houses which cut to interiors of an ‘ordinary’ family home. In
constructing the scene this way Travis is suggesting that the day-to-day course of life
continues despite the conflict.

Travis affects a fly-on-the-wall camera style with partial shots of family members framed
through doorways and some handheld camera work following characters’ movements in the
kitchen. This technique positions the viewer to feel that they are eavesdropping on a family
argument between father and daughter.

Close-up shots of Michael’s wife, Patsy, in a dressing gown on the staircase, reveal both
her inability to cope with the loss of her son alone and her reluctance to participate or
interfere in the argument. She is silent in her grief, unable to voice her sadness and Travis
reaffirms this in Cathy’s line, “She is too sad to get out of bed”. Travis intercuts the
argument with these shots to prove Cathy’s words.

Travis uses the return of a previously absent character, Cathy, to highlight the devastating
effects of Aidan’s death in the Gallagher household. She reveals in her dialogue that, “ you
both look terrible” (to her sister and father), questions, “who looks after her (mother)?” and
accuses her father of being “always at a meeting” asking him, “what are you doing it for?”
Cathy acts as the voice of “reason” forcing both the family and the viewer to see a different
perspective of the situation.

Cathy is shot mostly in close-up and, as the argument continues, she shouts and cries in
anger and frustration revealing the depth of her own loss and need for her father’s comfort.
She is in direct contrast with the normally quietly spoken members of the Gallagher
household when she cries, “Aidan’s dead. He’s dead.” then accuses her father of shirking his
responsibilities to them: “You should be here, daddy, looking after us.”

Travis’ lengthy close-up reaction shot of Michael’s face after Cathy’s final accusation
encourages the viewer to experience the range of emotions Michael is experiencing and to
feel sympathy for him.

This scene shows how family members’ individual expressions of grief about their loss and
subsequent needs become a source of family conflict. Michael has been consumed in his
pursuit of justice for his son’s death. So determined has he been that he cannot appreciate
how the rest of his family need him to comfort them, nor how they can continue to live their
lives normally minus Aidan. In a broader sense, Travis is commenting on how complex and
devastating the effect conflict is on ordinary people.
Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section C: The text at work                        19
For the classroom:
• What view of family conflict does Travis present to the viewer in this scene and how does
    he achieve this?
• Describe Cathy’s (daughter) personal conflict in this scene and how it is revealed in her
    dialogue and actions.
• Describe Michael Gallagher’s personal conflict in this scene and how it is revealed.
• How can this scene of family conflict be linked to the film’s central conflict?

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Act 1 – Parris and Proctor argue (pp.34-35)

Parris: “Mr Corey, you will look far for a man of my kind at sixty pound a year! …He says
there’s a party.”

The extract is from Act 1 and is an argument between Reverend Parris and the protagonist,
John Proctor. The unpopular Parris believes himself to be persecuted by his congregation
while Proctor believes Parris to be more concerned with saving money than souls. It is a
case of the individual (Proctor) challenging the authority of the Church (Parris). Miller’s
language portrays Parris as a greedy, self-interested character and positions the audience to
agree with Proctor.

Miller includes stage directions to emphasize his sense of Parris’s rise from anger to ‘a fury’
such that he loses control and voices his inner fears, ‘now he’s out with it’.

The plays’ language is rich in meaning and imagery, as evinced in the title, and the
vocabulary conveys an argument in another era as well as positions the audience to admire
Miller’s protagonist and dislike the minister and representative of the church. The language is
colloquial and, at times, uneducated language that convincingly places the drama in another
historical time yet is understood by a modern audience. For example, Parris: “I do not fathom
it, why am I persecuted here?”.

The spoken dramatic form requires characters to speak in short sentences. The extract, a
private argument, begins in a formal manner but becomes less formal as the characters grow
angrier. Miller often ends these sentences in exclamation marks, particularly as the argument
escalates between Parris and Proctor.
     Parris: “I want a mark of confidence is all!”
     Proctor: “I am sick of Hell!”
Miller uses interrupted speech, to further indicate an argument between the characters.

By characterising Parris as greedy, self-interested and pompous in his abuse of power, Miller
clearly shows his point of view about Parris’ authority. Parris’ own dialogue condemns him as
the anti-thesis of a good minister. He repeatedly refers to his congregation as “you people”.
He lacks insight into his own unpopularity and conveniently blames the “Devil”. Miller shows
him to be threatened by Proctor’s stance and he hides behind the Church and resorts to
threats, “There is either obedience or the church will burn like Hell is burning”. Parris is so
threatened that he accuses Proctor of being part of “a faction” against him. Miller contrasts
Parris’ greed and unsuitability as a minister with Proctor’s honesty and humour. For example;
Parris’ line “Mr Corey, you will look far for a man of my kind at sixty pound a year” is
immediately followed with Proctor humorously describing Parris’ constant talking of “deeds”
and “mortgages” at the meeting house as more appropriate to an “auction”.

In contrast to Parris, Miller shows John Proctor to be an honest, hardworking individual who
scoffs at authority and Parris’ accusations and gains the audience’s sympathy. He

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section C: The text at work                        20
challenges the minister on his financial stance and points out Parris’ prodigious use of the
word “Hell” with humour in the line, “Can you not speak one minute without we land in Hell

Proctor’s line ”I like not the smell of this authority” provides the audience with a strong
negative image of Parris and the church he represents as well as showing Proctor to be
bravely honest.

Miller’s final stage direction in the extract reiterates his sense of both Proctor’s anger at the
minister and his humor. His line, “I have a crop to sow and lumber to drag home”, affirms his
status as lowly, hardworking farmer and implies the opposite of Parris.

For the classroom:
• Describe the type and level of conflict between Proctor and Parris in this extract.
• What view of the conflict does Miller present to the audience?
• Describe how Miller’s choice of language positions the audience to agree with Proctor’s

Act 3 – Proctor confesses to lechery (pp.97-98)

Proctor: “I have known her sir. I have known her…My wife is innocent, except she knew a
whore when she saw one!”

This extract is from Act 3 and the action takes place in the court, presided over by Deputy
Governor Danforth. In order to save his wife, John Proctor confesses to having had an affair
with Abigail and sacrifices his “good name” and “honor”. Miller’s language conveys Proctor’s
inner turmoil, guilt and emotional conflict as he confesses his disgrace.

Miller includes stage directions that show he wants actors to provide a physical
manifestation of Proctor’s inner shame. Proctor ‘trembles’, his voice ‘breaks’ and ‘he has to
clamp his jaw to keep from weeping’. Miller further emphasizes Proctor’s personal conflict by
directing the autocratic Danforth to be ‘dumbfounded’ and ‘blanched in horror’ while the
saintly Francis is to be ‘horrified’. Their reactions confirm the gravity of Proctor’s confession.

As it is set in a court, the register is public and formal, yet the conflict is personal. Miller
shows that Proctor thinks of himself as unworthy over the affair when he laments that Francis
has no “evil” in him that would enable him to recognize Proctor’s actions. Miller portrays
Proctor as a man with a heavy burden of guilt and his choice of language for Proctor’s
tortured confession of sexual lust is rich in meaning and imagery as he identifies the place of
their affair as “proper, …where my beasts are bedded”.

Miller’s language choice also reflects the positions of women as either a wife or a whore in
this setting. While Proctor admits to “a promise in such sweat” and therefore accepts
responsibility in part, he describes Abigail’s actions as “a whore’s revenge”. Despite Proctor’s
condemnation of women Miller evokes sympathy from the audience for his flawed
protagonist as we see a proud, honest man condemn himself and beg the court in a valiant
effort to save his wife.

Proctor’s words, “I set myself entirely in your hands…you will believe me” reveal his
desperation and provide dramatic tension since the audience knows his feelings about the
religious authority in Salem and appreciates the depth of his pleading.

Proctor condemns Abigail as someone who “thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave”.
The conflict between Abigail and Proctor is revealed in this extract as Proctor repeatedly

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section C: The text at work                          21
refers to her as, “whore” and “lump of vanity” and to his wife as, “dear good wife”. The
clearest example of this is in the last line, “ My wife is innocent, except she knew a whore
when she saw one!” where Miller sets up Abigail the “whore” in sharp contrast to “innocent”
Elizabeth, heightening the dramatic effect.

Miller reveals Abigail’s strength here as she stands up to both Proctor and Danforth. Miller
directs Danforth to ‘seem unsteady’ at Abigail’s refusal to answer in his court.

Miller emphasises the importance of reputation in the world of the play as Proctor says to
Danforth, “A man will not cast away his good name” early in the extract then picks the idea
up again when Danforth cannot gain an answer from Abigail about the accusations.

Miller gives his words a poetic quality when he has Proctor use the word “bell” because he
creates the image of the sound of bells spreading the message of Proctor’s disgrace. The
bells can also suggest the tolling of the death knell for Proctor as he is doomed.

For the classroom:
• Describe the inner personal conflict John Proctor faces in this extract.
• What view of John Proctor’s conflict does Miller present to the audience?
• Describe how Miller’s choice of language positions the audience to sympathise with John
    Proctor and against Abigail.
• How does the extract reveal gender conflict in the world of the play?

Act 4 – Proctor tears up confession (pp.124-125)

Proctor: “You will not use me! …Show a stony heart to sink them with it!”

This extract is from Act 4 and the action takes place in Proctor’s cell. It is an argument
between John Proctor and Deputy Governor Danforth. The major conflict explored in this
extract is the personal conflict that John Proctor faces. He has signed a false confession in
order to save his wife, thus forfeiting his ‘good name’ but does not want it publicly presented
so argues with Danforth. Finally he resolves his personal conflict by tearing up the
confession and condemns himself to death.

The tone in this extract is both argumentative and one suggesting increasing anxiety as
Proctor accuses Danforth of using him. Proctor repeats the line, “You will not use me!”

Miller suggests Proctor’s feelings shift from distress and anguish to a sense of honour in the
language used in his dialogue and presents this in sharp contrast to the character of
Danforth, who has remained obstinately unknowing and resolute and whose character has
not developed. Miller shows the audience Proctor’s increasing anguish in the questions he
asks of himself and Danforth, “I sold my friends?” and “How may I live without my name?”.
He has him argue that a verbal confession recounted by Danforth should suffice, appealing
to Danforth’s superiority when he says, “You are the high court, your word is good enough!”
only to then deny it with, “What others say and what I sign to is not the same.” He escalates
the argument Proctor has with his conscience and this heightens the dramatic tension as
the audience knows from Danforth that if Proctor recants he will hang.
Miller uses poetic language to create strong imagery when Proctor confesses himself to be
a liar and unworthy, ‘with a cry of his soul’ when he says, “Because I lie and sign myself to
lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang!” He says that he has
given Danforth his “soul” implying that he’s done a deal with the devil.

Miller suggests irony in Proctor’s last words on the matter when he has Proctor describe his
decision as a “marvel” and “magic”, the very terms for the evil the religious authority had

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section C: The text at work                        22
maintained was present in Salem. The audience sees that the inner conflict and the
conscience of John Proctor is resolved with his decision and that he now feels worthy by the
words, “I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor”.

Miller condemns Danforth through his dialogue, reveals his point of view on the paradox
about authority causing more injustice and positions the audience strongly against Danforth
and the religious authority he represents. Danforth reveals himself as a stickler for the law
when he says, “Is that document a lie? If it is a lie I will not accept it!” His absolute belief in
his own authority and lack of insight and compassion for fellow men is revealed in his line,
“You will give me your honest confession in my hand, or I cannot keep you from the rope.”

Miller utilizes includes stage directions that asks the actor to show a physical manifestation
of Proctor’s resolution to his inner torment. Proctor ‘his breast heaving, his eyes staring tears
the paper and crumples it, and he is weeping in fury, but erect.’ He emphasises the
importance of Proctor’s act of defiance as well as revealing the other character’s reactions.
Danforth calls for the reinforcement of the law in the form of the “Marshal” while Parris is
‘hysterical’ repeating Proctor’s name. It is only the religious representative turned skeptic,
Reverend Hale, who shows compassion and care for Proctor as he implores him, “Man, you
will hang! You cannot!”

Proctor’s powerful imperative sentences, urge listeners to stand strong and fight for what
they believe in and to, “Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them! Show honour now, show a
stony heart and sink them with it!”

For the classroom:
• Describe the personal conflict John Proctor faces in this extract.
• What view of John Proctor’s conflict does Miller present to the audience?
• Describe how Miller positions the audience to sympathise with John Proctor rather than

The Line by Arch and Martin Flanagan
Memoir by Arch Flanagan: Cholera (pp.72-73)

“As cholera dehydrates the patient, the seriously ill were given intravenous injections of salt
H2o …Bill Bedford especially, told great yarns about the old man and his dog.”

This extract comes from the memoir section of Arch Flanagan’s work.

At this point, the cholera crisis is easing and there is change in pace for the sick prisoners.

Arch, having emerged ‘from the shadow of death’ cast by the cholera, is able for a time to
bask in relative ease with the other sick men, ‘rest[ing] away the days in confinement.’ He
comments that each of them “in his own selfish way thought, there but for the grace of God
go I” as they watched their fellow POWs go past, to be driven ‘mercilessly’ by their Japanese
captors. Arch’s commentary understates the deprivation and suffering of the sick men, many
of whom for instance were subjected to ‘intravenous injections of salt water’ using ‘crude
materials’ which few survived. “Happiness is all a matter of comparison” declares Arch and
the pleasure that was presented by the opportunity to ‘talk of many things, of distant
wonderful Australia…’ disguises the terrible uncertainty and suffering these sick men must
have endured and their concern for their mates who struggled on.

Arch Flanagan uses a long sentence to set up this scene “Back in the main camp, volunteers
were called for to assist the cholera orderlies and 2/3 Machine Gun fellows, Mark Crisp and

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict     Section C: The text at work                            23
Ian Wynne, entered the contaminated area”. The understated simplicity of the tribute given to
these men in the next short sentence “It was a brave act” belies the strength of gratitude felt
and is typical of Arch’s spare prose.

The third paragraph is concerned with the figure of Colonel Dunlop and the way he fulfilled
his rounds “devotedly”. Dunlop is respectfully accorded his rank as Arch begins this
description, and the repetition in the next sentence describing Dunlop’s physical appearance
“His leg…, his face…, his cap as ever…, builds to a final, more fervent observation: ‘…he
was our symbol of hope’. This ringing declaration is immediately contrasted with a more
colloquial and down to earth rendition of the same idea, “More than ever now we thought, ‘If
Weary goes we’re all done’”. The switch to Dunlop’s nickname, from the formal address of
Colonel, suggests that this was how the men referred to their leader privately, with great
affection and humility. Dunlop’s significance later dominates an entire chapter of the text but
his extraordinary importance to the men on “the line” is suggested here. Arch Flanagan
speaks with absolute confidence in the unanimity of the men’s feelings, that they depended
on Weary for their survival.

Arch Flanagan lists his sick comrades by name, including an attribute or two and a
connection to acknowledge his ‘old friends’. As he makes this personal introduction of them
to his readers, the tragedy of lives being lost to conflict is implicitly suggested.

For the classroom:
• Discuss the ways in which health is imperative for survival in the camps and the irony of
    the situation of those with cholera.
• How does Arch present the soldiers’ reliance on ‘Weary’?
• What is the significance of the nicknames that the men used for one another?
• What sense to you get from this extract of a tacit code of behaviour that the POWs
    followed and which helped them survive?

Short story by Arch Flanagan (pp.133-134)

 “Finally I collapsed on the track and he went down on his hands and knees above me …we
just wanted them to be like Bertie.”

This extract from one of Arch Flanagan’s Short Stories is a fictional account of a war-time

The action depicted occurs in a jungle prison camp at the end of a gruelling day’s work under
the supervision of the Japanese prison guards and as the exhausted narrator falls, his
equally exhausted friend Bertie refuses to leave him behind. Bertie heaves the prone young
soldier onto his back and carries him back to the camp. The narrator’s subsequent journey
has both physical and dream-like elements, highlighting the brutal physicality of the situation
and contrasting it with the peace and comfort of a remembered home.

The passage shows how the young soldiers are bound together in friendship in a time of
incredible hardship and conflict. The dialogue between the characters illustrates the affection
and solidarity between men in such harsh circumstances, “No worries, Young’un. I’ll get you
in”. The use of colloquial language establishes the closeness of the men as well as their
Australian identities, and places into sharp relief the chasm between the Australian soldiers
and the Japanese officers. The soft and contracted nickname of “Young’un” contrasts
vibrantly with the Japanese guards staccato “You, no good, you, no good, no good”..
Likewise the doctor’s use of “son” for Bertie and his paternal “Well done. But get some rest”
reflects the sense of family that has been created by the men as a means of coping with the
conflict and deprivation. The reader can also see the extent of Weary’s influence so that it
dominates Arch’s fiction too.
Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section C: The text at work                        24
In the long paragraph “He carried me through…..” the narrator’s dreamy state is powerfully
conveyed through the repetition of phrases: “jog and roll”, “no good”, “plodding on and on”,
“help of the helpless”, as he bounces along on Bertie’s back. The narrator’s “reason and
imaginings” allows Arch Flanagan to give his character a history “I’m at Uncle Jack’s farm”
The religious references in this section are evident “I’m a cross and Bertie is Christ”. The
connection between Christ’s final sacrifice and Bertie’s is apparent and the image of the
cross is important, as is the memory of the mother’s singing of religious music “cool and
serene”. These female attributes contrast markedly with the masculinity represented in the

As a narrative that recounts past events it is told in the past tense, in declarative
sentences. Varied sentence structures provide for dramatic effect. From short, simple
sentences that herald a change of pace, “As through a mist I heard him speak”, to complex,
long sentences that move the action along, “It was the next day when I awoke in that forlorn
huddle of tents they called a hospital and as I lay there on the slats of flattened bamboo, I
listened to the listless talk of the others and what they were saying overwhelmed me”,
followed by the dramatically short and blunt: “Bertie was dead”. Similarly, Arch Flanagan’s
creates the noises of camp life and the juxtaposition of the “notes of the Last Post” with the
“complete and awful silence” that follows paints a picture of the devastation of conflict.

For the classroom:
• Why do you think Arch Flanagan chose to write this account of life in the prison camp as
    fiction rather than as an autobiography? Discuss what difference there might have been
    to the account if it had been non-fiction.
• Describe the tension between the female character at the end of the story and the
    narrator. Why is it so easily resolved? What is Arch Flanagan’s point in relation to the
    experience of conflict and its effect on human values and behaviour?
• How does the dialogue (Bertie’s and the Japanese guard’s) help to create tension and
    convey a sense of conflict?
• Comment on the use of flashback to depict the inner conflict of the characters.
• Make a list of the religious images in this extract. What do these images contribute to the
    ideas about encountering and dealing with conflict?

Martin Flanagan: “so now it’s down to you and me, Dad” (pp.159-160)

 “so now it’s down to you and me, Dad” …”That’s what you protected me from as a kid, Dad,
the big fear you have to be well ready to confront.”

This extract by Martin Flanagan is printed in italics and as such the two authors highlight and
unsderscore their differing styles. This extract has two distinct audiences. Firstly, Martin
Flanagan is writing to his father “So now it’s down to you and me, Dad”; however, his use of
‘you and me’ slips to ‘He’ and ‘I’ within the same paragraph. This lets the reader into a private
conversation between the two authors who have morphed into father and son; however, on a
broader scale it show the ripple effect of conflict “We’re children of the railway”.

Martin speaks of a multitude of conflicts including those his father encountered during the
war, and those he faced when he returned. However, this extract looks at the way in which
Martin Flanagan has watched his father over the years battle with his inner self. Martin
congratulates Arch for fighting what he knows to be reality and still choosing to believe in
humanity. “Forgive me if I trespass, old man, but it’s a beautiful dreaming you possess.”

Martin Flanagan is a professional writer, a journalist, and far more descriptive in his writing
than his father. In describing a conversation the reader first must know the environment “river
below, mountain opposite. River broad and silver…Mountain big and blue and dusky, curl of
molten gold above one shoulder”. This descriptive style and the image of the mountain in the
Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section C: The text at work                         25
background, perhaps a symbol of Arch himself, is emphasised by the absence of dialogue.
It is not that Martin does not quote his father, “In the end, you told me once with a shrug of
your shoulders, it’s a mystery”. But this is done without inverted commas and the specific
voice of Arch slips into the background. This reflects both the taciturnity of his father and the
profound effect that his words had on his son.

In this extract, Martin Flanagan talks about his father’s habit of talking to himself, “or that’s
what some people say. I know better.” and suggests what his father is doing in reality is
“…talking to your family, you’re talking to the blokes you knew on the line…”. The description
of the garden, and the private inner conversations being held with those who have passed
away gives a sense of privacy and calm. The sudden use of ‘I’ and the influx of action
“tapped…swung…contorted…fear” is an interesting technique as the reader is struck by the
violent effect of such a small gentle gesture. It is in this brief moment when Arch
inadvertently shows Martin ‘a fear [he’d] never seen before. Not once.” that the reader
recognizes how much Arch has kept to himself in order to protect those that he loved from
“the big fear you have to be well ready to confront.”

For the classroom
• Describe the ways that conflict exists for ‘children of the line’.
• Give reasons why you think Martin Flanagan has chosen to include this passage. How
    does its central message relate to conflict?
• What effect is created for the reader by the personalized conversation between Martin
    and Arch Flanagan?
• How does Martin Flanagan present the far-reaching effects of conflict?

The Secret River by Kate Grenville
In accordance with Federal Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the inclusive term, ‘Indigenous
Australians’ should be used when writing about the text, unless directly quoting from the text.

First encounter (pp.146-147)

This extract describes the first physical encounter between the Thornhill family and the
Indigenous Australians. It is important as Grenville suggests that, with a lack of
communication, violence becomes the lowest common denominator between contrasting

The Indigenous Australian characters are given no dialogue. It is reported that ‘he was
shouting angrily, the same word again and again and Willie was shouting right back into his
white whiskered face, Give it here, give it!’, but it is the white child’s words that are given a
voice. The third person narration is written in a formal manner. It is the language of the
characters which is colloquial, Oy you thieving cunny. This highlights the conflict not only
between Thornhills’ class and that of the educated narrator but also between Grenville’s
contemporary audience and the period in history she’s depicting.

Grenville also uses names as a way of distinguishing between the two cultures. Thornhill, the
protagonist, is given his surname as his identity, his son is Willie and his wife Sal. The
Indigenous Australian characters are named by their appearance ‘old grey beard’ and ‘the
younger one’. The difference in ways of naming highlights the ignorance of the English
characters as well as allowing them to be detached from the characters that they are

Grenville creates tension in this extract by describing sound. ‘The slaps on the man’s skin
were like slow ironic applause’. This simile, set on its own distinct from any other paragraph,

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section C: The text at work                         26
slows down the action of the passage and allows the reader to absorb the impending conflict.
Contrasting with the speed of action in the previous paragraph the next one describing the
old man’s actions is slow and deliberate, mirroring the character’s movements.

Grenville creates the image of the bush as a theatre, where ‘in a single step he seemed to
recede into the flickering light and shade of the forest. It closed behind him as smoothly as a
curtain.’ This highlights the intensity of the drama which has just been played out and which
is still taking place.

Grenville’s references to animals “he could smell his thick animal scent…even a dog
understood Go away when he saw it” illustrates that the behaviour is primal, that this conflict
is intrinsic, and it is for survival. It also serves to reinforce the otherness projected onto the
Indigenous Australian characters.

Thornhill, the protagonist, is referred to as Thornhill throughout the narration. However, Sal
challenges his authority by referring to him as Will. “She glanced at him. Ain’t that right Will?
this question served to Thornhill after his first conflict is a powerful one. It foreshadows future
misgivings but also reinforces the conflict which exists between these two characters.

For the classroom:
• Why do you think Grenville portrays the conflict as so physical?
• Discuss the extent to which this type of conflict is inevitable in these circumstances.
• Examine the irony of the language used by the characters. What do you think Grenville is
    suggesting here?
• Describe how the two different cultures are depicted and comment on the language
    choices made by Grenville to underscore fundamental similarities and differences
    between them.

In court (pp.65-66)

This extract describes Will Thornhill’s testimony and conviction at his trial in London. The
reader is struck by the unjust nature of the trial and the extreme punishment given to him.
But, more interestingly, it is the way in which Thornhill is overwhelmed by the experience, his
inability to clearly articulate his excuse, that strikes the reader.

The use of names in this paragraph is important as it highlights the chasm between the
classes. Thornhill and Sal retain their traditional names, and William Thornhill is generally
referred to by the narrator as “he”. Thornhill refers to the other actors in the court case either
by their role “the judge” or their title “Mr Lucas”. Their different social status is reinforced by
Thornhill himself.

Dialogue is brief but powerful in this passage but it is only when his punishment is given that
there is a voice other than that of the protagonist. This further cements the conflict between
classes that exists in the courtroom setting. When Thornhill does speak, he sounds
desperate Mr Lucas knows… aware that his own knowledge counts for nothing here. He is
overwhelmed by the setting and enters a state of detachment. “The moment where Thornhill
was allowed to tell his story was upon him so abruptly that he found the words he had gone
over with Sal had evaporated from his mind”.

In this state of detachment, Thornhill observes the behaviour of others. Grenville allows the
third person narrator to make keen observations as though through Thornhill’s eyes,
describing people in the crowd that are of no significance to the story and are never
mentioned again. “One of the lounging ushers, a corpulent man in a bulging dirty white
waistcoat, caught sight of someone he knew across the room and made a mincing wave and
a smirk. A barrister fiddled with the grubby ruffles at his neck”. This lengthy description
Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict     Section C: The text at work                          27
creates the swooning tension felt by the confused protagonist and it makes his sentence
seem all the more unfair. The first words that Thornhill hears, other than his own, is his
sentence: that he is to “be taken from this place and hanged from the neck until … dead”.

The final paragraph of this passage shows all the action is happening around Thornhill. “He
heard.. He wanted…grabbing him…forcing him…he turned his head…then he was
back…without his story…striped naked of his tale…his moment of hope had been and gone,
and left him now with nothing ahead but death”. The use of “he” with the description of his
movements as depicted by someone else highlights his isolation, powerlessness and
despair. The action escalates in the last paragraph but Thornhill is a passive participant.
Things are done to him and he has not strength or presence of mind to resist. It is as though
he is in a dream in slow motion. Somehow he finds himself back in the cell, not knowing how
he got there. The final sentence in this paragraph builds a sense of emotional despair by a
series of metaphors and collocations: “without his story,….stripped naked,….stripped of
everything,….hope had been and gone,…..nothing ahead but death.”

For the classroom:
• List the actions and demeanour of Lucas, the judge, the barrister and the ushers.
    Comment on the verbs and adjectives used and the effect created.
• Thornhill is depicted as helpless and powerless, a silent observer of the situation. Find
    phrases that create this impression.
• Write out the three instances of dialogue in this passage and compare the language
    used in each one. How do Thornhill’s words contrast with the judge’s pronouncement?
    How does this marked difference reflect the conflict of the situation?
• Which senses does Grenville appeal to in this extract? Describe how these appeals help
    convey tension and conflict.
• Describe how Grenville highlights the differences between the classes.
• How is justice portrayed in this extract? Does justice exist for the characters at this time?

Smasher’s rage (pp.233-234)

This scene exemplifies the different attitudes and reactions of the characters when brought
together in a conflict situation. Smasher is in a furious rage with the Indigenous Australian
man; he is scathing towards Thornhill, whilst Thornhill does not react to or intervene in the
confrontation between the Indigenous Australian and Smasher. Thornhill shouts feebly at
Smasher when confronted by a sneering accusation by the other man. Clearly, Thornhill is
an outsider here, not fitting comfortably with either group.

Typically the Indigenous Australian’s feelings and intentions are clear despite the absence of
his words. The image of the whip briefly joining him to Smasher and the long silence that
follows creates a moment of climax, and the reader stops breathing in anticipation of what
might come next. The question arises: “how will this conflict be resolved – by violence or by
other means?”

Again the dialogue is crucial to establishing the sense of conflict. The Indigenous Australian
character is given no dialogue “pantomiming how good it was to eat”. Smasher’s dialogue is
coarse, Want a free feed do you, he shouted. See you in hell first. This language contrasts
greatly with the formality and calm of Grenville’s writing style and suggests that there is a
question about just who is the “savage”: the character labelled as such or the one
demonstrating “savage” behaviour?

The description of the scenery highlights the extent to which the Indigenous Australians are
in harmony with their surroundings and the white characters are not. “He went down to his
canoe and slid into the water” whereas “Smasher ran into his hut and snatched up the
flintlock leaning against the wall, but by the time he had run back down, fumbling with the
Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section C: The text at work                        28
bag of shot, the black man had poled his canoe out into the current and was being carried
out of sight around the rocks”. This idea is reinforced later, when Grenville describes the
scenery and juxtaposes it with Smasher’s actions. “Smoke continued to pour over the water.
Smasher turned his head away to spit a long brown stream.” Smasher is in conflict with the

The action that follows between the two white men, Thornhill and Smasher, is no less conflict
ridden than the previous one. Again the presence of language is no less significant than the
absence of it. “His face was too close, his voice too loud”. Smasher, in his dialogue, refers to
the Indigenous Australian characters as they (with the exception of once labelling them
bastards), and Thornhill as you. He also mentions we. The pronouns set up an “us and them”
dichotomy through exclusive and inclusive language, and reinforces that Thornhill is not
part of Smasher’s group.

For the classroom:
• Describe how conflict is presented between characters from similar backgrounds – when
    it is not as a result of racial or class differences.
• Describe how Grenville ’s imagery helps to convey the sense of conflict.
• Discuss how Grenville creates tension through her description of the environment.
• Consider the way in which the author chose present dialogue in The Secret River.
    Discuss possible reasons for this choice and suggest the effects created for the reader.
    How does the setting out of the dialogue help to present a view of conflict?

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section C: The text at work                        29
Section C: Supplementary texts
’Gangs warn of more violence’ by Ben Doherty et al.
This is an extract from the print article, ’Gangs warn of more violence’ (The          Age 16/01/07)
written by Ben Doherty, Jessica Halloran and Carolyn Webb. The article                 reports on an
incident of ethnic violence involving Serbian, Croatian and Greek gangs at             the Australian
Tennis Open. The extract includes a quote from a Serbian community                     leader, Toma

The writers’ point of view is clearly demonstrated in the extract where although both leaders
condemn the violence, it is suggested that they themselves must accept some blame for
perpetrating old cultural animosities and racial hatred among their youth, under the guise of
loyalty to ‘the flag’. The authors point out the leaders’ inability to see their own ingrained
prejudices, in the sentence that separates the two contradictory actions by an elongated
dash (em dash), ‘Leaders of Melbourne’s Serbian and Croatian communities condemned
yesterday’s violence –and accused each other’s supporters of provoking it’.

The initial tone of the extract is ironic, reflecting the writers’ attitude to the parties in conflict.
It then becomes aggressive, reflecting the Serbian leader’s attitude towards the Croatians as
he talks about the ‘old enmities’ felt by those who share a ‘bitter history’. Banjanin
exaggerates when he draws an analogy between their ‘over-zealous flag-waving’ to the
‘Nazis’ who ‘slaughtered a million and a half people’ in a bid to emphasis his point.

On the other hand, he downplays the Serbian reaction by claiming ‘a few Serbs’ will react
because ‘some people cannot restrain themselves’ implying that they were provoked.

The extract suggests that the intransigent conflict between the Serbians and the Croatians is
both reflected by, and the result of, different political allegiances, religious practices and
cultural values of communities of people who have lived together for centuries. The writers
also indicate that this type of conflict is not condoned in Australia.

Stanley McCombe Omagh: Voices of Loss by Graham Spencer
This is an extract from Omagh: Voices of Loss by Graham Spencer. It is presented as a
Stanley McCombe’s personal recount, a man who lost his wife and sister in the Omagh
bombing, as told to Graham Spencer. However, students should consider:
• the extent to which they think Spencer has shaped or crafted this account, editing and
    organizing McCombe’s comments so that they become more powerful and moving than
    they perhaps would have been as an unedited transcript;
• the effect of leaving out Spencer’s questions.

The register is informal, as befits a private conversation. Spencer has written up the jointly
constructed text – question and answer – in the first person and uses the simple, informal
language of McCombe to reflect McCombe’s anger and disbelief at the loss of his wife of
twenty-five years.

McCombe’s description of his wife’s dead body and feelings of anger and bitterness are
designed to evoke strong sympathy from the reader.

McCombe states that he ‘will never forget it’, and it ‘was the longest day’ emphasising the
tragedy and its far-reaching after-effects. He speaks using absolute terms, ‘never’, ‘whole’
‘don’t trust anybody’ which emphasizes the disastrous loss he has felt. His tone varies from
anguished to angry as his recounts his life after the Omagh bomb.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict       Section C: Supplementary texts                        30
Although McCombe does not actually describe his wife’s body after the bombing, his words,
‘that image stays in my head and will be in my head until the day I die’ and if his boys ‘had
seen what I saw and the way those murderers left my wife’s body they would flip’, encourage
readers to create gruesome images in their minds.

His anger is reflected in his condemnatory language as he refers to the bombers as
‘murderers’. McCombe speaks about ‘revenge’ in terms of his sons, not himself, but
concedes to feelings of ‘bitterness’. He repeats the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that
emphasises the strength of his bitter feelings – negative feelings that are stronger than any
he has felt before: ‘I’ve never hated anybody in my life, but I hate those people’.

When his wife Anne was alive, he says he was ‘easy-going’, a person who ‘enjoyed life’ and
the contrast with what he now feels is implicit.

‘Join Us In Saluting the Aussie Digger’ by D.D. McNicoll and Mark Dodd
The Australian January 20, 2007 www.theaustralian.com.au

In an online article, The Australian named Australian Diggers collectively ‘Australians of the
Year’. The heading is imperative but the intention seems to be less peremptory and to invite
the wider community to participate in some sort of celebration.

The authors of the article use a variety of techniques to justify their position and to promote
celebration of successful conflict. The intended audience is varied as the Australian is a
nation-wide paper with an international website. However, the article seems designed to
appeal to proud Australian citizens of many different backgrounds.

From the beginning the article utilizes inclusive language, ‘Australians owe the military a
great deal, particularly in our immediate region’. By using the term ‘Australians’ the author is
appealing to the readers’ patriotism and by nominating ‘our immediate region’ they are
highlighting the proximity of the danger that the audience has repeatedly been saved from.

The authors employ a logical chronological structure, moving from history, to the changing
face of war, to the recent deaths of Australians, which sets the tone as they offer a
justification of their choice for Australians of the Year. They are quick to acknowledge the
proud history of our past, reminding the audience of Gallipoli, Kokoda, Korea and Vietnam.
However, McNicoll and Dodd also point out the changing face of war. It is ‘a war on terrorism
rather than a conflict between nations’. The different categories are identified using words
with different connotations: ’war on terrorism’ contrasts with the less aggressive ‘conflict
between ‘nations’. As the face of conflict has changed, the authors suggest, it has become
worse. McNicoll and Dodd encourage their readers to reflect on the changing nature of
conflict, as well as the magnitude of these changes. This, coupled with the choice of
following with the deaths of “Private Jake Kovco” and other high profile deaths, is designed to
give credence to the idea that ‘our troops still work in inherently dangerous fields’.

The authors cite authorities, in particular Corporal Reilly and the Editor in Chief Chris
Mitchell, to promote the idea that their decision is supported by an intelligent cross section of
society. By pointing out the very large numbers of people who are to be honoured in this
way, “51,000 men and women who comprise the all-volunteer ADF”, the authors have tried to
give weight to their argument that it is appropriate to choose this group for the award.

The title of the article utilises the colloquial term, ‘Aussie Digger’. However, throughout the
article formal language is used exclusively to add value to the impression of serious work
completed overseas by ‘our’ troops. The article contends that the conflict ‘we’ are engaged in
now is serious and, as a result, rewarding the efforts of those that have fought is important.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section C: Supplementary texts                      31
At the end of the substantial article the authors remind the readers of the reality with the
sentence, ‘But the ADF is also starved of recruits, particularly in the technical area.’ The use
of the word ‘starved’ makes the situation seem dire; moreover, it ensures that those who are
fighting overseas are all the more deserving of their award.

‘Hilali's fans show the problem isn't just him’ by Andrew Bolt

Andrew Bolt’s initial posting plus SNIP’s response

Andrew Bolt’s blog is highly controversial. It appeals to a broad audience and many people
respond to his ideas. The blog is advertised daily in the Herald Sun. This particular blog entry
regards Sheikh Taj al Din al Hilali’s comments regarding women and rape. Hilali’s statements
were widely reported and criticized and sparked hearted controversy in the community. The
extract used is the banter between Bolt and SNIP. It is an interesting look into the use of
language within the presented conflict.

In his initial posting Bolt deliberately builds his case using emotive language. By stating that
he ‘desperately hope[d] that this was not the authentic voice of Islam in Australia’, Bolt is
appealing to his patriotic audience. He is also foreshadowing his later disappointment, ‘then
you read this’. His factual approach highlights his research and the undeniable facts of his
case, suggesting that ideas are the right ones.

Bolt also plays on preconceived images: ‘What kind of congregation needs reminding not to
punch people when they leave prayers?’ and the juxtaposition of notions of the peaceful
congregation with the violence is an important one. It sets the reader up for the sarcasm that
follows ‘Oh that kind.’ This generalisation seeks to create the sense of a subculture of
otherness. It presents conflict in two ways; the physical conflict that Bolt is reporting on and
the intellectual conflict he is engaging in. By encountering the conflict in a particular way he is
asking leaders to follow his lead. The ‘otherness’ is reinforced by the statement ‘We have a
problem and I’m afraid to say it is not just Hilali.’ Bolt’s use of the pronoun ‘we’ is designed to
generate fear in ‘us’ as opposed to them – members of the Islamic community.

SNIP’s response exemplifies certain ways of encountering and engaging in conflict. The fact
that SNIP remains anonymous changes the manner of the engagement and suggests a
desire to avoid any personal consequences of the controversial next statement.

SNIP identifies Sheikh al Din al Hilali as separate from his own mainstream Islamic
community and suggests that he should be thrown ‘out of him out Australia if he hates it so
much.’ SNIP ‘s comment ‘Oh that’s right economic Benefits!’ includes an exclamation mark
designed to highlight the withering sarcasm intended.

The blog allows contributors to be outrageous and extreme as they can hide their identity
and avoid taking personal responsibility for their publicly expressed views. However, this is
not an option available to Andrew Bolt, who reprimands this contributor: ‘That’s not fair. Or
helpful.’ Andrew Bolt, because of his public profile and lack of anonymity, is responsible for
monitoring the progress of his blog and cannot be seen to advocate extreme views, since
this could throw his professionalism into question and leave him open to sanctions. However,
Bolt is free to incite prejudice and bigotry through comments like, ‘While the rest of the
country expressed outrage at his comments, Taj Din al-Hilali enjoyed rock star status when
he arrived at Lakemba Mosque yesterday.’

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict     Section C: Supplementary texts                       32
Section D: Student texts
Students should complete preparatory exercises such as the ones suggested below, and
receive some formative and diagnostic feedback, prior to completing writing for summative
Outcomes assessment. These preparatory tasks should include working with the selected
texts as springboards for their own writing, and becoming aware of the ways that they could
use the ideas and strategies from selected and supplementary texts in their own writing
about the Contexts.

Students should complete exercises that will assist them to think carefully about language
structures and features, form, point of view, and register and to develop appropriate
metalanguage to discuss these with precision and economy.

Creating original texts is the major part of the task that students must complete. However,
they are also required to write an explanation of the process involved in creating the text/s,
and to use appropriate metalanguage in this discussion.

The explanation should demonstrate that the student has been aware of some of the issues
or problems presented in the construction of the text for a specified audience and purpose,
and the ways that these were solved. It should
• explain ways the text was shaped in response to the writer’s sense of the audience and
• highlight examples within the text where particular decisions or changes were made so
    that the text became more effective.

(The following material has been adapted from work produced by the writers of Inside
Contexts ‘Exploring Issues of Identity and Belonging’. The material will vary in its relevance,
depending on the selected texts being studied by the class. However, students and teachers
will find many of these activities interesting and useful for ‘Encountering Conflict’).

Narrative writing

The texts selected for the Context ‘Encountering Conflict’, including sections of The Line, are
character-driven narratives. In order to improve their writing and expand their repertoire of
strategies to use in response to prompts and stimulus material for Area of Study 2, students
should examine how the authors design convincing and engaging characters as well as
evocative, compelling settings within which these characters exist. This section presents a
series of exploratory writing activities to help them explore the creation of character.

Thinking about characterisation

        “I spend a lot of time working on characters. I start off with a resume – a job
        application form that I have extended a little bit. I fill that out and sort of force myself
        to think about the characters. Then if I am lucky I will find a picture of my character in
        a magazine… and pictures of their houses” (Walter Dean Myers).

Undertaking a series of character-based writing improvisations will enable you to generate
ideas for your own writing and to develop a consciousness about the use of specific
structural and linguistic features in presenting views about the context.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict          Section D: Student texts                         33
Character inventories

As suggested by Myers (above), some authors create ‘resumes’ about their characters –
these are also referred to as inventories or profiles. Essentially, character inventories list
facts in chart format. There are several different forms of character inventories which
emphasise aspects of a person’s sense of themselves and their ways of perceiving the world
they inhabit.

Character Inventory #1 (adapted from Bernays and Painter, What If?): name; nickname;
sex; age; looks; education; vocation/occupation; status and money; marital status;
family/ethnicity; speech, accent; relationships; places (home, office, car, etc); possessions;
recreation hobbies; obsessions; beliefs; politics; sexual history; ambitions; religion;
superstitions; fears; attitudes; character flaws; character strengths; pets; taste in books,
music, etc; journal entries; correspondence; food preferences; handwriting; astrological sign;

Character Inventory #2 (adapted from Bickham, Writing The Short Story): Character’s
name, age and brief factual biography; character’s dominant impression and major tags;
character’s goal, problem or lack that motivates them in this story; action, event or setting
that introduces the character; action, event or place where the character will be at the
conclusion of their part in the story; brief physical description of character.

Character Inventory #3 (adapted from Field, The Screen-Writer’s Workbook): write a factual
biography of the character from birth until the time of the story in the first person.

Character Inventory #4 (adapted from Horton, Writing The Character-Centred Screenplay):
Background – place and time, parental profile (race, ethnicity, socio-economic level),
siblings, family structure and life;
Basics – gender, physical abilities/limitations, race, ethnic background, religion, socio-
economic standing, environment;
Personality Traits/Tendencies – protagonist or antagonist, more thinking or feeling,
life/career/personal goals, core characteristic, biggest personal contradiction, father or son,
daughter or mother, victim/persecutor/saviour, self-centred/selfish/selfless;
Personal Individualising Habits/Tastes – personal appearance/stature, clothes,
favourite/hated food/drinks, education, hobbies, fears, most hated activities, most enjoyed
activities, deep secret, wildest fantasy, closest friend/s, attitudes towards
self/others/friends/sex/love/family/country/world/ religion/etc, sense of humour, etc
Professional/Public Life – job/career/occupation, accomplishments in society’s eyes, clubs/
organisations belongs to, public causes supported/protested, etc;
Telling Details/Likes/Dislikes – conservative/traditional or liberal/radical, ability to act “out of
character”/contradictory, vegetarian or carnivore, substance abuser or abstainer;
How Would The Character React To – death of loved one, unexpected compliment/kindness,
serious illness, natural disaster, etc.
(You can build additional categories and criteria into this model).

For the classroom:
• Compare and contrast these character inventories.
• Which is the most useful inventory in thinking about and designing a character
    appropriate to your exploration of ideas in this Context?
• Apply one of these character inventories to a character you have studied in a selected
    text. What does this suggest about aspects of the character’s construction?
• Using one of these character inventories, create a character for your own writing about
    the context.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict     Section D: Student texts                              34
Appealing and unappealing personalities

For the classroom:
• Drawing on the individuals you have encountered in the selected texts, complete the
    following lists.
• List the personality aspects that you find appealing (10-15)
• List the personality aspects that you find unappealing (10-15)

Authors build clusters of tags to signify their characters’ personality and their central,
motivating concerns. A tag is a specialised and recurring label which may manifest in the
character’s appearance, abilities, speech, mannerisms and attitudes. A character tag is a
concrete representation of abstract aspects of personality.

For the classroom:
• Give a concrete tag to indicate each of the appealing and unappealing personality
    aspects you have listed.
• Develop some of these into a descriptive paragraph.

Additional character-based writing improvisations

For the classroom:
• Monologues: explore the structure and psychology of monologues; re-write monologues
    into third person narratives, noting how this alters the strategies available to represent
    the character
• Stream-of-Consciousness: examine the linguistic features (especially sentence
    construction variety) and structural focus of this mode. Write original stream-of-
    consciousness piece for one of the characters in your selected texts.
• Point of View: re-write scenes from the selected texts from a different point of view, to
    note was is revealed or omitted, highlighted or downplayed, compared with the original.

Propositions, forms and contexts: anecdotes and expositions
For the classroom:
• Write an anecdote to explore one or more propositions (see below) relevant to the
    Context, provided by your teacher. An anecdote is a brief illustrative story. Draw the
    anecdote from either your direct experience or observed experience. The anecdote may
    support or challenge the proposition.
• Once you have written your anecdote to illustrate the proposition, your teacher will give
    you a specific target audience. Consider whether you need to make alterations to the
    anecdote’s language features in order to communicate better with the specified
    audience? How did writing for a specific target audience influence your presentation of
    ideas about the context?
• Working with the same proposition, explain and support your viewpoint in a short piece
    of expository writing.
• Once you have done this, your teacher will give you another specific target audience.
    Consider whether you need to make alterations to the language features in order to
    communicate better with the specified audience? How did writing for a specific target
    audience influence your presentation of ideas about the context?
• Compare your anecdote and expository piece – which text is the most effective in
    presenting your views about the same proposition? How did writing in a different form
    influence your presentation of ideas relevant to the Context?

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section D: Student texts                          35
Thinking like an author

Authors have to consider four key questions when designing a presentation of their ideas:
Why am I writing? This is the purpose of the presentation.
What will I write about? This is about the content and focus of the presentation.
How will I write about it? This is about the way in which the content and focus are
presented. Here the author makes decisions about techniques and strategies that will be
used to convey their content.
Who am I writing for? This is about identifying the specific audience for the presentation.

The best answers to these questions will be interdependent and the process in coming to a
decision about them is likely to be recursive and ongoing.

In the end-of-year Examination students will be provided with answers to at least two of
these questions: the Why and the Who. However, they will have to make decisions about the
What and the How as they plan their response to the task.

For the classroom:
• Prepare a brief on different presentation options for propositions you locate or those
    provided by your teacher, by completing the chart. This may be done individually or in

    ‘Encountering Conflict’
    Where humans are concerned, conflict is inevitable.

              WHY                      WHAT                   HOW                 WHO
        Specified               What type of writing   Give overview of   Specified audience,
        purpose.                will you choose:       the form and the   such as “the school
                                narrative;             linguistic         community,
                                persuasive;            structures   and   including teachers
                                analytical?            features.          and parents.”

•   Review the options you have outlined. Discuss the different strengths and weaknesses
    of the strategies available to you when using particular forms of writing.

Further activities for student writing on ‘Encountering Conflict’
•   In small groups choose one particular example of conflict identified in The Age, The
    Australian and Herald Sun (print or online) and track it for a week by collecting all related
    articles, blog posts and taking notes on any TV coverage. Give a brief presentation to the
    class in either oral or written form on your example and using at least three texts.
    − how the conflict began
    − who is involved
    − the various points of view presented
    − how the text positions the reader to view the example of conflict presented
    − suggest alternative ways conflict could be resolved.

•   From these, choose examples of different forms of media texts that deal with conflict.
    Write analyses of the way the author presents the conflict justifies their point of view.
    Include analysis of the language and textual references. Revisit the work you have done
    in the study area, ‘Using language to persuade’ to help you..

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict       Section D: Student texts                           36
•   Write a personal recount for an older audience related to a situation of conflict you either
    witnessed or were involved. Brainstorm for 15 minutes and write down any points.
    Include the circumstances, persons involved, actions, colours, your feelings, what people
    said (direct speech) and any immediate consequences.
    − You could represent it as a mind map with the event in the centre.
    − Write a personal recount of the situation using your brainstormed points and mind
        map as research.

•   Analyse an extract from a text, that you read before you began the study ‘Encountering
    Conflict’, that demonstrates the inner conflict of a character. Discuss how the author has
    achieved this, i.e. what stylistic features and language they have used. For example, you
    could examine one of Macbeth’s soliloquies. You could present this as a tutorial or as a
    written analysis to your class.
    − Create your own character(s) and write a text that demonstrates their conflict. You
         may choose to write a monologue, dialogue, dramatic scene, free verse poem or
         short story to be presented at a Year Level assembly.

•   Write a presentation that you will give at a Youth Forum on the topic, ‘The fight for peace’
    after the publication of the Ombudsman’s report about the Omagh bombing.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section D: Student texts                            37
Section E: The Outcome for Area of Study 2
In all likelihood, teachers will discuss and model structures and features of forms of texts as
the class considers the selected and supplementary texts for this Context, and their own
writing, in preparation for the Outcome. Examples of forms of writing that challenge or modify
conventional forms should be noted and explored as well as more traditional forms. For
instance, it may be useful for students to consider the Time Magazine Essay formats as a
model for essay writing and to discuss the ways that these differ from scaffolded structures
that they have been introduced to previously.

Students should be encouraged to construct forms of writing that challenge some traditional
conventions, and modify or combine traditional forms of text in order to present their ideas in
the most interesting and engaging ways. Forms of writing that incorporate elements of
narrative, exposition and argument, such as feature articles or opinion pieces or human
interest stories published in the print media, give students flexibility in the ways that they
might approach the tasks and structure their writing, as well as literary texts which
incorporate a range of forms.

Schools must decide whether students will complete this Outcome by putting together a folio
of 3-5 shorter pieces of writing, or by presenting at least one extended piece for each of
Units 3 and 4.

The end of year Examination will specify audience and purpose, but does not specify form.
Teachers are encouraged to give students experience in making decisions about form and in
learning to trust their own judgement about such matters. The prompts suggested below
specify an audience and purpose for the student’s text, without specifying a particular form.
However, teachers can easily include a specific form if they wish.

The Examination task for Area of Study 2 requires students to demonstrate in some way that
they have read one of the selected texts from the VCAA list. However, this is not a
requirement for the Outcome task.

Sample assessment tasks
Include a statement briefly explaining decisions you made as an author to present your ideas
in this piece of writing. In particular, describe how choices you made about language features
and structures were influenced by your sense of the audience and purpose for your text, and
explain reasons for the judgments you made about what would be most appropriate and
effective in terms of register and form.

•   Write a piece that explores a character’s personal reflections on an aspect of conflict.
    This writing will be published on the classroom noticeboard as a showcase for writing
    about ‘Encountering Conflict’.

•   Choose one aspect of conflict explored in a selected text and use it as inspiration to write
    a piece of flash fiction for a Year 12 audience, to be published in the Education section
    of a daily newspaper.

•   Write a speech for a Youth Forum on the topic, ‘Where humans are concerned, conflict is

•   Write an obituary for a person who has died as the result of conflict, be published in a
    daily metropolitan newspaper of the city in which they lived.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section E: The Outcome for Area of Study 2          38
•   Write about families of victims of a terrorist bomb dealing with conflict in the aftermath of
    the attack. This writing will be published on the classroom noticeboard as a showcase for
    writing about Encountering Conflict.

•   Write a text to be published in the daily metropolitan newspaper that explores a recent
    incident of cultural conflict in Australia.

•   Produce a piece of writing to be sent to a person affected by conflict explored in one or
    two of the set or supplementary texts.

•   Produce a collection of 3-5 short interrelated texts in different forms offering different
    points of view on the topic, ’family conflict’. This material will be used by your teacher as
    a way of demonstrating her approach to the Context, when she is interviewed for her
    annual Performance Review.

•   Write in response to somebody else’s text, drawing on the ideas about Encountering
    Conflict are explored in that text. Your writing will be displayed on the classroom
    noticeboard during parent teacher interviews.

•   Choose a passage (approximately 40 lines, or 10 minutes of a film) from one of the texts
    you have studied in the Context ‘Encountering Conflict’. Write an analysis of that
    passage, looking at the relationship between the style of the writing and the central ideas
    raised in the passage that are relevant to the Context. Your writing will be place on the
    notice board in the school Library during parent teacher interviews.

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section E: The Outcome for Area of Study 2          39
Section F: Glossary and resources
Glossary: definitions have not been provided and it may be a useful exercise for the class to
develop the explanations as they work through the Context.

absolute terms
atmospheric sounds
back story
camera shots
character development
close-up (shot)
close-up reaction shot
declarative sentence
documentary conventions
documentary genre
documentary style
dramatic recount
dramatic tension
elongated dash
emotive language
ever-tighter close-up
exclusive language
extreme close-up
flash fiction
fly-on-the-wall camera
handheld camera
imperative sentence
inclusive language
media texts
natural lighting
online article

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict      Section F: Glossary and resources             40
overlapping dialogue
partial shot
past tense
personal recount
poetic quality
reaction shot
size and movement
stage directions
third person narration
wide camera shot

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict   Section F: Glossary and resources   41
http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/police/ombudsman/po121201omahg1.pdf- Ombudsman’s report

Stanley McCombe Omagh Voices of Loss by Graham Spencer
The Appletree Prees Ltd, 2005
ISBN 0 86281 978 4 Harback 155pp

http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/events/omagh/spener/spencer05.htm - Stanley Mc Comb

www.appletree.ie email reception@appletree.ie
http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/events/omagh/spener/spencer05.htm - Stanley Mc Combe

Searching for the Secret River A writing memoir. Kate Grenville. Griffin Press 2006

The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop. Java and the Burma-Thailand Railway 1942/1945 E. E.
   Dunlop, (Melbourne, Nelson, 1986)

The Fight Martin Flanagan & Tom Uren (Oneday hill Publications 2007)

Editorial ‘When enmity transforms into mutual respect’ The Age 28/03/07 pp14
Milne. G, ‘A political witch-hunt will get us nowhere’ The Australian 13/03/07

McLeay,Jo,Blog: www.theopen.classroom.blogspot.com
http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/index.html excellent website on Conflicts and politics in Northern Ireland
     (1968 to the present) by University of Ulster
www.imdb.com website for film texts
‘Cut to the Chase: A guide to teaching film as text.’ Andrea Hayes. Australian Screen
     Education 45 February 2007
‘Cut to the Chase: A guide to teaching documentary texts.’ Andrea Hayes. Australian Screen
     education 46 2007

Inside Contexts: Encountering Conflict    Section F: Glossary and resources                   42

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