Compare how ‘The Longest Memory’ and ‘The 7 Stages of Grieving’ explore the notion of betrayal

This resource is for Mainstream English Year 12 Students in the Victorian VCE Curriculum studying the Comparative Texts ‘The Longest Memory’ and ‘The 7 Stages of Grieving’.

Below is a Draft Essay Plan how to answer the notion of betrayal in both texts.

Quotes Included in Prompt:

Quote #1 “I want to keep you alive, that is all.  I do not care about your happiness; your life is everything to me.” (The Longest Memory p.135 ‘Forgetting’)

Quote #2 “I might be related, she answered, I never knew my family – maybe I could meet my real family and if not, I get to have a good cry, anyway.” (The 7 Stages of Grieving p.47 Scene 7)

Prompt:  “Compare how the two texts portray the theme of betrayal”.

Define betrayal = It refers to ideas around disloyalty, faithlessness and the breaking of trust.  It is concerned with not keeping your word and with giving up your integrity. 

NOTE TO STUDENTS = Quotes must be included in your analysis of the prompt.

Comparative Text Essay Structure

  1. Introduction = Main Contention & Message of Authors
  2. Body Paragraph 1 = Cause/Accept Prompt / Topic Sentence / Text 1 Evidence & Explanations / Transitional Sentence from Text 1 to Text 2 / Text 2 Evidence & Explanations / Link back to topic
  3. Body Paragraph 2 = Response/Develop Prompt Further / Topic Sentence / Text 1 Evidence & Explanations / Transitional Sentence from Text 1 to Text 2 / Text 2 Evidence & Explanations / Link back to topic
  4. Body Paragraph 3 = Consequences / Topic Sentence / Text 1 Evidence & Explanations / Transitional Sentence from Text 1 to Text 2 / Text 2 Evidence & Explanations / Link back to topic
  5. Conclusion = Sum up briefly / Message of Authors

Suggested Draft Introduction / Main Contention / Message of Authors

Fred D’Aguiar’s ‘The Longest Memory’ and Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman’s ‘The 7 Stages of Grieving’ explore issues around the betrayal of individuals and groups because of complicated ideas around racial superiority and discrimination.  The writers explore the injustices that both African American slaves and Australian Indigenous people faced from groups that they should have been able to trust, but who breached that faith.  In ‘The 7 Stages of Grieving’, the audience gains an overview through fragments of Indigenous history from the ‘Dreaming to Reconciliation’.  In doing so, they can see the continuous anti-Aboriginal prejudice that individuals and institutions have used to betray the Indigenous community, destroying their families and leaving them with deep sorrow and grief. In contrast, ‘The Longest Memory’ explores one plantation over a shorter period of time.  However, the effects of betrayal still leave nothing but grief and tragedy in its wake in the novella.  Both texts demonstrate that when people or institutions that should have everyone’s interests at stake, instead choose the interests of only one group, the results are devastating.

Body Paragraph 1 focus = individuals betray others / include quote #1 with explanation

Body Paragraph 2 focus = groups and institutions betray by choosing the interests of one group over the other

Body Paragraph 3 focus = how the disloyalty and breaking of trust affects individuals and generational distress / include quote #2 with explanation

Suggested Draft Conclusion / Message of Authors

Whitechapel’s betrayal of his son in the opening scene of ‘The Longest Memory’ shocks both the readers and the other characters.  While Whitechapel offers the explanation, he wanted to protect Chapel from further harm.  More significant is the chain of broken trust in the overseer and Mr Whitechapel that such an injustice is carried out.  The novella points to a much broader social and political responsibility and guilt for the unfairness of Chapel’s brutal death.  On a similar note, ‘The 7 Stages of Grieving’ also points to a breaking of trust in the social and political sphere where institutionalised racism that began with the invasion in 1788 has continued to recent times.  The play posits that the whole society is responsible to atone for the lack of trust and the injustices committed against indigenous Australians.  Both texts demonstrate how whole societies that practice racism and injustice must atone for their self-interest and broken trust that caused generational trauma.

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