(7) This mirrors the British government's view of Australia. As they slowly try to discover who or what he is and where he's been, they are much the same as the early colonials when they first arrived and themselves as they created their township out of this unknown land. (11)
As Mr. Frazer and George Abbot put words in his mouth, not caring about the truth of them, but needing to give him an identity, so did the politicians in Britain treat Australia. (16) This identity was unreal and romantic because the truth of Gemmy's existence was frightening to them and by creating this fiction they were able to keep the darkness at bay. Further evidence of this attitude is reflected in the letters written by Sir George; to be delivered to the Lords back in England this correspondence provided romantic idealized versions of the harsher reality. (169) His representation of Australia bore little similarity to the actuality of the land and life to be encountered and led there.
The settlers had an equally idealized version of "home." They would long for "home" in quiet moments, unable to allow themselves to admit that maybe, immigrating had been, not quite, but almost, a mistake. For many, Britain was becoming a hazy memory, like the ghost of Willett, Gemmy's former owner, whose memory Frazer and Abbot rekindle while prying Gemmy's past from his tongue-tied mind. (21) They had cut their ties with "home", much as Gemmy did when he burned down Willett's house, and neither he nor they could go back. (152) They had all "stepped off the world." (152) For all of them the experience of becoming Australian forever separated them from the world they left behind. They had lost their Englishness, much the same as, in their eyes, Gemmy had lost his whiteness.
Just as Gemmy could not blend in, neither could they return to their former lives. They, too, were irrevocably changed. Neither could Australia be Britain, it could be British, but would never be "home". The price of freedom and the cost of separation were heavy weights in their minds. Their concerns, and the nation's, were very different from those back in Britain. Becoming a settled, self-sustaining colony, building a country, meant becoming increasingly more independent. More than a long journey divided them now.
Gemmy brought the "black" directly home to them and forced them to face an issue that they and their governors were torn about. Should they ignore, exterminate, confine or befriend the aborigines Gemmy drove their lack of a unified front regarding this to the forefront of their minds and lives. They and their government were not ready to confront their cultural biases. It was easier to leave the natives to themselves, maintaining an invisible boundary, and to treat each interaction as a singular event.
Aboriginals were separate, not equal, just as was Gemmy. He was treated like a child or an idiot, instead of a grown man. All of the settlers' prejudice and unease was reflected in their treatment and opinion of Gemmy. He was almost too different, too changed, too tolerate and his differences made him threatening and untrustworthy in their collective minds, just as the aborigines were. His actions, and he himself, were unpredictable and unnatural. (38) He was alien and alienated. He had no place in their world, because he was a puzzle, just like the indigenous peoples, and they were too preoccupied with day-to-day survival to sort out a place for the pieces to fit.
The townsmen attempted drowning of Gemmy