Alan Seymour Used Clashing Personalities to Portray Generation Gap Effectively

Topics: Generation Gap

There are many issues in society today, which where prevalent around the 1960?s when Alan Seymour wrote the play ? The one day in the year?. Although most of the plot within the play is concentrated around Anzac Day, issues such as the generation gap, functions of education and class divisions, are of major significance to both the play structure and the audience, to clarify differences of opinion. From generation to generation, moral thoughts and behaviour undergo considerable change. Muliticulturalism is one such significant change, it opened the eyes of the educated youth, helping them to see this change as step towards an economical and diplomatic future.

Where as in previous generations, a lack of education, formed an uneffective one-eyed view of any change.

Alan Seymour has purposely used characters with clashing personalities, to portray the generation gap, functions of education and class divisions. Two divisions Seymour has used are high class and middle class citizens. The characters consisted of Jan, a young lady from the fashionable north shore of Sydney, the Cook family of Hughie, his mum, Father, Alf, and a close friend of the family, Wacka, who live in the western suburbs of the lower middle class.

Jan enters the simple lives of the Cook family, with her upbeat actions and reactions, which seem very strange and even disturbing to these middle class citizens. She creates a strong tension between herself and the family, which eventually leads to disputes among Hughie and his father. The differences of opinion creates a distance between them, and as the generation gap takes over, it seems to be caused by Alfs former lack of education on relevant issues such as class divisions.

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Alf is a man who doesn?t like change, he seems stuck in his generation, feeling left behind from that of his sons. The changing world over whelms him, the social change and ever improving education which has become apart of his sons life, forces an even greater remoteness between them, as differences of opinion arise.

What is interesting is that Alf is more than willing to stand up and announce his beliefs and experiences, where as Wacka, Alfs mate, is hesitant, yet gives his wisdom only when necessary. Here again, is the issue of the generation gap. There is fifty years difference between the first and second World Wars. Wacka fought in the first World War, where as Alf is a veteran of the second. Wacka?s attitudes are less aggressive to that of Alf, despite Wacka?s lack of former education to Alf? s. So then, could it be that education is not he main influence on the generation gap? But rather the need to reject the previous generations? value technique?s in order to find a new system of their own – which in turn will then be rejected by the next generation?

The twentieth century has witnessed several movements, which have helped to shape the rise of Australian culture, such as the Anti-Discrimination Act. Each movement has in some way altered the way we think. Our views on a multicultural society has changed greatly from that of the 1960?s to the acknowledged opinions of today. Many hope to see an end to the class divisions and the generation gap that is ripping the country apart. If everyone could put aside their differences and look at their similarities, much of the issue would be resolved. So until people can see that there is only one ethnic group, the human race, issues such as those mentioned throughout the play will always exist.

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Alan Seymour Used Clashing Personalities to Portray Generation Gap Effectively. (2021, Dec 21). Retrieved from

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