1. Discuss the importance of place and/or landscape in one or more texts that you have read. Place is important because it constructs the setting and era, discussing issues through symbolism and what is accepted in society during those times. The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler relies heavily on place to construct the setting and bring the story into context for the audience. It is set in the 1950s, in Australia during the midst of an economic boom.
The story is about the boys Roo and Barney coming down from Queensland to Melbourne to see Olive and Pearl for the lay-off season. “The house of the play is situated in Carlton, a now scruffy but once fashionable suburb of Melbourne”. The choice of setting in Melbourne is important as it shows how Roo and Barney are normally up in Queensland working but during their times off they come to Melbourne to see Olive and Pearl.
Each time Roo comes down for the summer he brings for Olive a kewpie doll. This is symbolic of the time they spend together.
It is also symbolic of their children as they are not married and Olive has no plans to marry Roo or have actual children with him. The fact they have this sort of de-facto summer living relationship also says a lot about the era it is set in. During the 1950s it was not acceptable to live with a man if you were not married to them.
Olive lived in her illusionary world of ‘kewpie dolls’ and the boys just coming down for summer. She loved when they came but she also loved when they left because to her it was just like a summer fling.
Ray Lawler chose this era to set it in because towards the end of the play, Roo doesn’t just want to be the ‘lay-off season’ guy, he wants to live with Olive permanently, give up his job in Queensland and marry her. Olive says “You think I’ll let it all end up in marriage – every day – a paint factory – you think I’ll marry you? ” She doesn’t want that kind of relationship with Roo and the era of the 1950s makes the storyline that much more important as it sees the coming of age of women being independent.
It is about individualism, growing up or refusing to grow up and freedom. For Australians it was the first time many of them got to see realistic characters portrayed with themes of mateship displayed between the boys. Therefore the place is important as it is displays Australian themes during the era of 1950 and it also discussing issues within society and how they weren’t accepted told through the characters portrayals. RIGHTS RESERVED