As an aborigine, Jimmie Blacksmith is, almost by definition, a victim like his half brother Mort, but Jimmie’s plight is exacerbated by his mixed parentage. As Keneally depicts him, Jimmie soon loses his “black core” and even symbolically baptizes himself as a white man. Since white society is closed to him, however, Jimmie is a “hybrid,” a man “suspended between the loving tribal life and the European rapture from on high called falling in love.” When he turns against his heritage and embraces white values, he is the victim of failed expectations, but though he “resigns from the white cycle,” he cannot return to his past. Before his death, Jimmie is “lost beyond repair somewhere between the Lord God of Hosts and the shrunken cosmogony of his people.”
Tabidgi and Mort Blacksmith also serve as symbols of white suppression. Jimmie’s uncle, who belongs to the past, has nevertheless been corrupted; his motives for visiting Jimmie include not only the altruistic desire to return Jimmie’s initiation tooth but also the baser goal of receiving free liquor from his nephew. Mort, who chants and paints his face with white clay, clings to the past, and because he has not been tainted with white aspirations is an “innocent” who finally is “possessed” by Jimmie. As a tribal man, Mort does not want to shed woman’s blood, which is associated with tribal taboos; Jimmie, on the other hand, has directed his rage at the women who have...
(The entire section is 516 words.)