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The One Day of the Year

Sculpture and photograph in the War Memorial

The Senior English class was not as quiet as usual. All seven students were engaged in animated disagreement over Alan Seymour's play The One Day of the Year.  The source of the debate was not that it began with "I'm a bloody Australian and I'll always stand up for bloody Australia". It was because it questioned the validity of the most Australian of days, Anzac Day.

I found an essay titled The Essence of Drama and Conflict in my senior essay book. It isn't a good essay as it only received 14 out of 20 marks. It includes this paragraph:

"The greatest conflict of the play was brought about by the generation and education gaps. Alf was an old war veteran and observed Anzac day sacredly ... marching in the procession and joining his old pals in the pub.  He had brought Hughie up with the same respect for soldiers but being from a younger generation the war was a nonentity in Hughie's life. With his education he looked on Anzac Day critically observing it as only as a booze-up for the old soldiers. Hughie's refusal to attend the dawn service and then his ridiculing of Anzac Day in the university newspaper made is father extremely angry.  There was open conflict between the father and son."

The words "being from a younger generation" have "unrelated participle" marked in red over it. I don't know what it means now and doubt that I knew what it meant then. The grammar checker passes it as being OK today. The teacher underlined "sacredly" and put a question mark over it. Perhaps she felt that joining his old pals in the pub wasn't sacred observance of the day. I felt that Alf did, in his way, treat the day as sacred. In my family it certainly felt like a sacred day.


  1. I will try to come back to this later this evening. It says a lot about teaching back then. But there is so much for me to have an opiinion on in this post. Goodie ... Ann and I are off to the jousting in Parra Park.

  2. No, I do not know what 'unrelated participle' means either. However, I suspect she may have wanted you to use the form 'he being'.

    I can understand her querying 'sacredly' as in those days we were not allowed/encouraged to make up our own words.

    Did she not comment upon the argument of your essay at all? In marks out of 20, I think that only 5 she be used to mark grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The rest of the marks should be used for the quality of your argument; not whether it was right or wrong, but whether it was cogent.

    Now what was the play that Kirsten studied, along the same lines but about Vietnam. I will google it. Yes, 'Away' by Michael Gow.

  3. I've been thinking about your post today and came to the same conclusion as Julie in regard to the word "sacredly". I also felt that a bit of feedback, together with the underlining and question mark, would've been more constructive.

  4. That English teacher was very pedantic and didn't like my writing style. I always got mediocre marks from her and yet in the state exams came out with a very high mark which made me more than a little pleased.

    Mind you, I doubt there was much quality in my arguments. I've never been much of an essay writer.

    I just dug into the archives and found there as one comment "Good conclusion".

  5. Interesting how teaching styles come and go. As there are also many learning styles, it was just good luck if you scored a teacher whose teaching style matched your learning style!

    Also interesting how ANZAC day has made a comeback - apparently the numbers of young Australians at ANZAC cove each year are astronomical!

    Very thought provoking!!


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