Mini Essay - Bruce Daw

In the 1950s the middle class society of Australia was becoming increasing developed due to the influence of American pop-culture and the post-war revolution. This historical period brought about an economic boom and technological innovation which spurred changes in social values, broke down geographical barriers and allowed families to obtain the ‘Australian Dream’. However, the dream was characterised in economic terms with the splendours of wealth and materialism slowly hijacking the social and cultural attitudes of the generation previous. Bruce Dawe, a social realist commented on this development symbolically through his poem “Enter without so much as knocking” to illustrate that though the influx of American culture, mass marketing and consumerism dominated the values of that time, unfortunately bringing about a material conformity and status obsessed society.
An overly exaggerated and sarcastic piece by nature, the poem aims to sardonically highlight the unspoken negative issues concerning consumerism in a cynical fashion. This leads to a euphoric realisation by the audience as Dawe surreptitiously reveals the extremities of society. Demonstrating this hypocrisy, Dawe frequently uses a series of imperatives to convey an escalation of meaning, “KEEP CLEAR/OUT/OFF GRASS. NO BREATHING EXCEPT BY ORDER” crescendos in such a manner and ultimately positions audiences to question the boundaries they have conformed to. To further exaggerate the effects of materialism Dawe hyperbolises the values of a family with children having only “A year or two to settle in and get acquainted with the set-up”, sustaining a quite impersonal and cold tone that contrasts with the usual warmth associated with children. There is also the incorporation of vernacular advertisement-like phrases that insinuate life and family being auctioned to the children, as being born into a world of commercialism leaves families acquiring members synonymously with buying parts for a vehicle.