Essay on The Tall Man By Kate Hooper

Essay on The Tall Man By Kate Hooper

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The Tall Man by Australian author Chloe Hooper is an expository text published in 2008, exploring the death of an Aboriginal man named Cameron Doomadgee while in police custody on Palm Island, an Aboriginal reserve off the coast of Queensland. On the morning of November 19th, 2004, Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, a White Australian police officer, arrested Doomadgee for allegedly causing a public nuisance. Less than hour after his arrest, Doomadgee was pronounced dead in his cell. Sufficient evidence was found to lead the Deputy Coroner to find Hurley responsible for Doomadgee’s death. Doomadgee’s death served as a catalyst for civic disturbances on the island, and a legal, political, and media sensation that continued for three years. Hooper’s compelling and strategically written text paints an Australian context where a distinct racial divide separates the country; one where racism is rife and where white supremacy is as rampant. As a post-colonial reader having migrated to Australia from Europe less than two years ago, the text reinforces pre-existing ideologies I am inclined to, particularly those regarding white supremacy against racial discrimination.

Palm Island is recognised as an isolated reserve governed by White Australia for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islands, who were forcibly removed and relocated throughout Queensland in the settlement’s establishment in 1914. The island has a history punctuated by unrest and violence, and in 1987, a Royal Commission was launched to investigate the number of Aboriginal deaths in custody. Palm Island’s social context is beleaguered by violence and dependence on drugs, and in particular, alcohol. In 2006, it was put under an Alcohol Management Plan, known as an AMP, after an inquiry...


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...andished. The marginalised Aboriginals resigned to using “purri purri” (sorcery) against the police, which emphasises the idea that in this context, the Aboriginals felt so oppressed that they resorted to conjuring spirits for protection. Hooper describes a painting in which under a white man’s shirt, “he was reptilian”, and the adjective “reptilian” allows the audience to understand that in this context, the Aboriginals felt so threatened that they had to draw the trooper as a snake. In Aboriginal culture, the snake symbolises protection of the land of Aboriginal people, whom believed that a man would be harmed if the symbol was drawn upon him. My understanding of the oppression in which Aboriginal Australians faced in colonial Australia invoked feelings of anger and disgust, and reinforced pre-existing attitudes I have on discrimination and the corrupt police force.

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