Black Diggers

Black Diggers

by

Tom Wright

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Archie Character Analysis

A soldier notable for writing a series of letters home to his Auntie May, which track his increasing sense of alienation and shock throughout the war. In the closing scene of the play’s first act, Archie kills a German soldier who, in his dying breath, calls Archie a “Black Devil.” He grows more disillusioned still after the war, when he is refused access to a bar while wearing his medals on Anzac Day because he is black and then returns to the cattle station Bertha Downs to find that conditions have actually worsened for Indigenous workers. When he mentions that the workers are being mistreated, the manager threatens his family and another worker chastises him for his attitude. Archie’s letters to Auntie May reveal the ripple effect of World War One soldiers’ trauma on their families and gestures to the primary source material (letters) that remains Australia’s only memory of its Indigenous Anzac soldiers. His struggles upon his return show the enormous disconnect between the atmosphere of the Australian military and Australia itself: not only were Indigenous soldiers’ contributions seldom recognized (while white soldiers’ were valorized), but Indigenous people also remained second-class citizens despite their contributions to Australia.

Archie Quotes in Black Diggers

The Black Diggers quotes below are all either spoken by Archie or refer to Archie. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Australian Nationhood and Indigenous Dispossession Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Playlab edition of Black Diggers published in 2015.
Act One Quotes

Seriously, this has gone for years and it could go for years. We lose a few mates, they lose a few, the whistle blows, we gain another cricket pitch worth of Belgium, the horn blows, they chase us out. But most of the time we sit here and we sing our songs. And they sit over there and sing theirs. And everyone, everyone hates the whole bloody stunt.

Related Characters: Ern (speaker), Archie, Mick , Stan
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

And the worst of it is that Ollie is still alive, he’s in the hospital and he hasn’t got a face but he’s alive Aunty May. But he hasn’t got a face Aunty May, he hasn’t got a face.

Related Characters: Archie (speaker), Aunty May
Related Symbols: Letters
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

Schwarzer teufel. Schwarzer teufel mit weiße Augen. Schwarzer teufel. Schwarzer … letzte, was ich sehe.

Related Characters: German Soldier (speaker), Archie
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two Quotes

You listen to me and you listen to me nice and close. I don’t give a rat’s arse where you’ve been and what you’ve done. I don’t give a fuck what happened on the other side of the world. I don’t care for your airs and graces. As far as I’m concerned you’re still the boy who used to shut his lip and do as he was told. Ever since you came home you’ve been the worst kind of black, an uppity one. I suggest you get on with the job at hand and stop being a troublemaker. Or things might get tough for people you care about. Jesus, now you’ve gone and got me angry. Who put these bloody ideas in your head?

Related Characters: Overseer at Bertha Downs Cattle Ranch (speaker), Archie, Mick
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Black Diggers LitChart as a printable PDF.
Black Diggers PDF

Archie Character Timeline in Black Diggers

The timeline below shows where the character Archie appears in Black Diggers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One
War, Violence, and Shell Shock Theme Icon
History, Memory, and the Archive Theme Icon
In the military in 1915, about to cross into France, Archie writes a letter to his Aunty May under lamplight. He hopes her well and affirms... (full context)
War, Violence, and Shell Shock Theme Icon
In a trench on the outskirts of a battlefield in 1917, Mick, Archie, Ern, and Stan play “I spy” to pass the time. Ern notes that they have... (full context)
Australian Nationhood and Indigenous Dispossession Theme Icon
History, Memory, and the Archive Theme Icon
During a burial in the battlefield, Archie shuts his eyes as other soldiers sing “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past,” a... (full context)
War, Violence, and Shell Shock Theme Icon
In another letter to Aunty May sometime in 1917, Archie writes that a friend of their family, Ollie Thomas, “shot himself in the face” in... (full context)
War, Violence, and Shell Shock Theme Icon
Somewhere near Amiens in 1918, Archie writes to Aunty May, asking about the meaning of a specific quote from the Biblical... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
War, Violence, and Shell Shock Theme Icon
In Messines in 1917, Archie fights a German soldier with bayonets. Archie gets stabbed, but then manages to get his... (full context)
Act Two
Racism Theme Icon
...back home in Australia, Mick jokes that “they really rolled out the red carpet” but Archie tells him to take it easy. They shake hands and decide to agree “this wasn’t... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
In a pub on Anzac Day in 1932, a pub worker kicks Archie and another digger out, even though they are dressed formally and even wearing their war... (full context)
Australian Nationhood and Indigenous Dispossession Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
In 1920, at a cattle ranch called Bertha Downs, Archie wears a coat in the rain while the farm overseer takes shelter on the verandah.... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
After the overseer leaves, Archie complains to his friend, who wants to stay out of the argument and tells Archie... (full context)