In her play, Rainbow’s End, Jane Harrison represents the capacity of the main characters, Nan Dear, Gladys and Dolly to belong in 1954 Australian white society. Past events such as the ‘invasion’ by the British in 1788 and the subsequent loss of land with its spiritual meaning, the taking of Aboriginal children from their family and the general oppression of white people have impacted on their desire and ability to find sense of belonging in the towns of Maroopna and Shepparton. Each of the main character’s experiences has influenced their desire and ability to enter white society. Nan has suffered at the hands of white people to the extent that she does not want connection to them nor does she want her granddaughter, Dolly to seek entry. Gladys does want inclusion in white society, for herself but more especially for her daughter Dolly. Dolly is caught between her mother and grandmother in her attitude towards becoming an accepted member of the general, white society.
Nan Dear doesn’t like white society for her own good reasons to the point she doesn’t want Dolly to get involved with them. Nan Dear knows that no Aboriginal would/will be accepted into white society and it’s not just it’s her personal thing against them. Nan is a very spiritual person and she cares massively for all Aboriginals even if they aren’t the best of people and she says this about some of the other Aboriginals “They might be drinkers but they’re still our people”. Nan may not have the same ideals as Gladys, but she still treats her with respect and she knows she can’t change how Gladys feels. Nan and Gladys have different opinions on whites which both have been passed on to Dolly. Nan and Dolly are close, and they feel the same about whites about not going to be accepted by them. Nan doesn’t just dislike or trust whites because they don’t treat Aboriginals correctly but also because she has been treated very unfairly which brought along Gladys her daughter.
Gladys is the only one that wants to be accepted by white people, she wants to go see the Queen while the others don’t, and she plays along with gameshows like pick-a-box. Gladys is very optimist about things which is completing different to Nan Dear who is pessimistic about whites. Gladys is smart, she knows things won’t change unless someone steps up and she wants to be that person, but Gladys has something holding her back. When Errol comes into the fray she is a little confused but is intrigued about him and the fact he has books, not for herself but Dolly. Gladys is like her mother in terms that she is for her family before items. “No! No! They’re only possessions. And what do they matter? People is what matters. p176”. She went out of her way to get Dolly books for her benefit even though she doesn’t have much money. When Dolly got involved in an unfortunate event Gladys got angry with Errol because she thought Errol did that and just threw all her rage at him, but later made it up with him and he helped her with her thing that stopped her from doing what she wants to do. She also allowed Errol and Dolly to keep seeing each other.
Dolly is Glady’s daughter and granddaughter of Nan Dear, so she lives on two sides; one side being Nan Dears pessimism and the other side about Gladys optimism. Dolly is like Nan Dear more idealistic about life, she knows that she won’t be welcomed by whites and even jokes about it with sarcasm “As a bookkeeper…in the laundry. p153” this is when Gladys and Nan Dear are arguing about Dolly’s future, and Gladys said Dolly could be a bookkeep because she is smart and Nan Dear being real saying she will only work in the laundry. She is also like this when she meets Errol because he doesn’t understand the barrier between white people and aboriginal people, because of this Dolly and Errol fall for each other and Errol still not understand/ being oblivious asks Dolly to go the ball with him. Unfortunately Dolly storms out because what is said about her/ to her and Errol chases after her and asks her if she would go with him and Dolly says she can’t, and they argue, and Dolly tells him this “This is my place. I’m staying right here with my mum and my nan. P172”.