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Hospital Evening

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"Hospital Evening" and "Monday" by Gwen Harwood are two poems that explore the hardship of immigrants in Australia. Written in the late 20th century after the "White Australia Policy" was abolished and thousands of immigrants landed on Australian shores, the poems revolve around Krote, a German music teacher, who has migrated to Australia and his struggles with racism and the harshness of the Australian environment. The poems negative construction of Australian people acts as a critique of the Australian stereotype of being laid-back and friendly and brings to light the harshness of the environment and the xenophobia which was instilled in Australian culture at the time. This is done so through the juxtapositioning of the settings of Australia and Germany, the negative representations of Australian people and the perception of Krote by Australian people.  

The contrasting settings of Australia and Germany from Krotes perspective invert the idea of Australia being a more ideal environment than Germany in young Australian readers. As a young Australian I have always associated Germany with harsh coldness and long periods of darkness and Australia with sunshine and warmth. In "Hospital Evening" Germany is represented as positive and calm with images of "stiff trees" that "glitter in silence" and "soft-fallen snow". These images of pristine nature and white snow represent Germany as peaceful and alliteration of ’s’ sounds create a soothing feeling within readers. In both poems Australia is represented as a harsh and negative environment with "the blaze of evening burning through curtains like a firelight ghost" and bad food and bad people. The recurring image of heat and fire work to represent Australia as harsh and destructive and the use of harsh sounds like 'b' and 't' help to create a harsh and sharp connotation of Australia. In "Hostpital Evening" Krote is feed vegemite which he hates and mistreated and "dreams of snow". Vegemite is a very strong... Show More

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