No Sugar

No Sugar

by

Jack Davis

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Sister Eileen Character Analysis

A white nun who works at the Government Well Aboriginal Reserve. She has more respect for the Aboriginal men, women, and children in her care than does her superior, Neal. She does not condone using violence against her Sunday School students, and she disagrees with Neal when he tries to convince her to stop teaching her indigenous students how to read. Still, she participates in a racist system without ever acting to dismantle or oppose it, and is only an ally to the Millimurra-Munday family and others because she is not explicitly an enemy.

Sister Eileen Quotes in No Sugar

The No Sugar quotes below are all either spoken by Sister Eileen or refer to Sister Eileen. 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:
Racism, Discrimination, and Colonial Violence  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Currency Press edition of No Sugar published in 1998.
Act 2, Scene 4 Quotes

Mary: I don’t like the way [Mr. Neal] looks at me.

Joe: Well, you got me now, for what I’m worth.

Mary: He’s always hangin’ around where the girls are workin’; in the cookhouse, in the sewin’ room. And he’s always carryin’ that cat-o’-nine tails and he’ll use it, too.

Joe: Bastard, better not use it on you or any of my lot.

Mary: He reckoned he was gunna belt me once.

Joe: What for?

Mary: ‘Coz I said I wasn’t gunna go and work for guddeah on a farm.

Joe: Why not? Be better than this place.

Mary: No! Some of them guddeahs real bad. My friend went last Christmas and then she came back boodjarri. She reckons the boss’s sons used to belt her up and, you know, force her. Then they kicked her out. And when she had that baby them trackers choked it dead and buried it in the pine plantation.

Related Characters: Joe Millimurra (speaker), Mary Daragurru (speaker), Mr N. S. Neal, Matron Neal, Sister Eileen
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 4 Quotes

NEAL: Just a moment… There’s another matter I’d like to discuss with you. I believe you’ve been lending books—novels—to some of the natives.

SISTER: Yes, I have.

NEAL: There’s a sort of unofficial directive on this is; it’s the sort of thing which isn’t encouraged by the Department.

SISTER: What do you mean? That you don’t encourage the natives to read?

NEAL: That’s right.

SISTER: [incredulously] But why? I’d intended to ask your permission to start a small library.

NEAL: I’m sorry, Sister, but—

SISTER: [interrupting] It won’t cost the Department a penny, I can get the books donated. Good books.

NEAL: It’s quite out of the question.

SISTER: But why?

NEAL: Look, my experience with natives in South Africa and here has taught—led me to believe that there’s a lot of wisdom in the old adage that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’.

Related Characters: Mr N. S. Neal (speaker), Sister Eileen (speaker)
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 5 Quotes

SISTER: It gives me great pleasure to be with you all on this very special day, when we gather together to pledge our allegiance to the King and to celebrate the birth of this wonderful young country […]. We must remember today not just our country and King, but the King of kings, the Prince of princes, and to give thanks to God for what He has provided for us […]. Even we here today, Mr Neal, Matron Neal and myself, are but His humble servants, sent by Him to serve your needs. The Lord Jesus Christ has sent His servant, Mr Neville, Chief Protector of Aborigines, to speak to us on this special day. Mr Neville is going to say a few words before leading us in a song of praise to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

[NEVILLE rises. The whites clap while the Aborigines remain silent.]

Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

ALL: [singing]
There is a happy land,
Far, far away,
Where saints in glory stand,
Bright, bright as day:
Oh, how they sweetly sing,
‘Worthy is our Saviour King!’
Loud let His praises ring,
Praise, praise for aye!

[As the whites continue, the Aborigines break into full clear voice with a parody of the words.]

There is a happy land,
Far, far away.
No sugar in our tea,
Bread and butter we never see.
That’s why we’re gradually
Fading away.

Related Characters: Auber Octavius Neville, Sister Eileen
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sister Eileen Character Timeline in No Sugar

The timeline below shows where the character Sister Eileen appears in No Sugar. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 4
Racism, Discrimination, and Colonial Violence  Theme Icon
Government, Civilization, and Religion Theme Icon
White Australians vs. the Aboriginal Family Unit Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Mary doesn’t mind Matron and Sister Eileen , but she doesn’t like Mr. Neal. She finds him scary and predatory. He often... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Government, Civilization, and Religion Theme Icon
Sister Eileen leads an outdoor Sunday School at Moore River. Cissie and Topsy sit with other Aboriginal... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Colonial Violence  Theme Icon
In the background, as Sister Eileen teaches, David enters the stage. Billy comes behind him and grabs his shoulder. David was... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Colonial Violence  Theme Icon
Government, Civilization, and Religion Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Sister Eileen chastises Billy for beating David. Although David was cutting class, she tells Billy “we don’t... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Government, Civilization, and Religion Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Neal has summed Sister Eileen to his office. He wants to know what hymn she has planned to sing for... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Colonial Violence  Theme Icon
Government, Civilization, and Religion Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Neal then criticizes Sister Eileen for lending books to the Aboriginal families at the Settlement. He says there is an... (full context)
Government, Civilization, and Religion Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Before Sister Eileen leaves, she tells Neal that she doesn’t like that attendance at her Sunday School classes... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
Racism, Discrimination, and Colonial Violence  Theme Icon
...above the crowd. Billy and Bluey, wearing ill-fitting new uniforms, stand beside an Australian Flag. Sister Eileen delivers a speech. (full context)
Government, Civilization, and Religion Theme Icon
Sister Eileen calls on the assembled crowd to “pledge our allegiance to the King and to celebrate... (full context)
Government, Civilization, and Religion Theme Icon
Language and Culture Theme Icon
Neville forgets what is next on the agenda, and Sister Eileen has to remind him that they will sing a hymn, (not a song, as he... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Colonial Violence  Theme Icon
White Australians vs. the Aboriginal Family Unit Theme Icon
...as Neal assures the white crowd “he’s only fainted” before exiting in the other direction. Sister Eileen remains onstage, not sure which group to follow. (full context)