There are a number of Australian novels and short stories in which Japan or Japanese characters appear, not merely as objects of curiosity, but as an essential part of a work. In this essay I discuss the nature of two such works.
“Mr Butterfry” is the story of an Australian man, Blue, married to a Japanese wife with “alien inscrutability and the stolen accent [i.e.，Australian English].” Throughout the work, the author Hal Porter remains an observer of an exotic culture of Japanese ( = inscrutable) aliens. He detests the fusion of western culture destroying eastern tradition, so conspicuous in post-war Japan. To understand his sentiment, it is necessary to see that he feels the same way towards post-war Australia, changing rapidly through industralization and multi-culturalization.
In the case of Poor Fellow My Country, we find the author much more sympathetic to Japanese and other “aliens.” Herbert understands and tries to integrate the plural visions of the world in order to create a new national identity for Australia, independent of the Old World. His ideal is expressed through the ambitions of the hero of the story, Jeremy, a white man dreaming of a “Creole Nation.” In turn, Jeremy’s grandson, Prindy, a clever half-caste aboriginal boy, embodies this dream. Herbert believes Japan to share the same agony that Australia experiences in its struggle to find its place between Asia and Europe. Even in the scene of the Japanese bombardment of Darwin, Herbert appears more hostile to Western imperialism than to that of the Japanese.