Black Diggers

Black Diggers


Tom Wright

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Harry Character Analysis

At the beginning of the play, Harry listens to an old Retired Schoolmaster and some of his friends discuss the coming war, but does not seem to pay it much attention. Later, however, he ends up fighting in it. He gets into an argument with a white soldier on his transit over to Europe, but the other white soldiers intervene on Harry’s behalf. Later, he and Stan grow close at the battle of Polygon Wood, while another soldier calls Harry “as good as a white man.” Both these episodes show how white soldiers have deeply ingrained prejudices but are also able to revise and look past them when fighting alongside their Indigenous countrymen. However, Harry and Stan’s final meeting at the end of the play demonstrates how any progress made toward social integration during the war got easily reversed back in segregated Australia: Harry is begging on Castlereagh Street because he is unable to find work, and Stan, who works for the Department of Lands charged with giving Indigenous land to white soldiers, walks by and gives him some cash.

Harry Quotes in Black Diggers

The Black Diggers quotes below are all either spoken by Harry or refer to Harry. 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

RETIRED SCHOOLMASTER: Think about what it might mean, if swathes of Mahommedan Turks or creeping armies of sausage-breathed Huns over-ran our country, imposing their foreign ways, interfering with our women. Imagine the horrors of what it would be like if we were to lose, and you wake up one morning and find us all under occupation.

HARRY: Yeah. Imagine.

They laugh. The old bloke moves on muttering under his breath. They join him, mimicking him at first, but one of them has a bass-drum, their parade of mimicry becomes a rallying march.

Related Characters: Harry (speaker), Retired Schoolmaster (speaker), Ern, Norm, Bob
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

Listen to us and you shall hear, news that’s been coming for a hundred years: Since Captain Cook, and many more, you’ve never seen the like before.

The white man needs us coloured boys now
Here in the shit every face is brown
You see the world’s turned upside down
See the world’s turned upside down.
Fellers — You see the world’s turned upside down
See the world’s turned upside down

Related Characters: Harry
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

HARRY: If you blokes have a beer with me then that’s a start.

STAN: What are you on about? We’d always have a beer with you.

FIRST WHITE SOLDIER: You’re as good as a white man, Harry.

Related Characters: Harry (speaker), Stan (speaker)
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Black Diggers LitChart as a printable PDF.
Black Diggers PDF

Harry Character Timeline in Black Diggers

The timeline below shows where the character Harry appears in Black Diggers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One
Australian Nationhood and Indigenous Dispossession Theme Icon
History, Memory, and the Archive Theme Icon
In 1914, “Somewhere on the Gwyndir,” a stick-carrying white Retired Schoolmaster tells a group of boys—Harry and his mates Norm, Bob, and Ern—about the “quiet war” that “could easily threaten all... (full context)
War, Violence, and Shell Shock Theme Icon
Later, in same group of boys, Harry asks his friends why some seen people (“they”) are going to fight in the Army,... (full context)
Australian Nationhood and Indigenous Dispossession Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
In the Indian Ocean in 1916, an “Aggressive Private” named Jim takes issue with Harry’s presence during mealtime on a military ship. Harry insists “the world’s turned upside down,” and... (full context)
Australian Nationhood and Indigenous Dispossession Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
...1917 battle of Polygon Wood, three white soldiers, one of whom is named Stan, ask Harry what he will do after the war, and he says he “can’t even imagine what... (full context)
Act Two
Racism Theme Icon
On Castlereagh Street in 1949, Harry is begging for money and Stan, in a suit, passes by, before they recognize one... (full context)