I love Homer Yannos a lot because he writes ‘WOGS RULE’ in the middle of a war because even when his country is being invaded, toilet graffiti is important, mate.
I love Homer Yannos because he’s a giant shit and he owns it. He was probably put in that box when he rocked up to his first day of school with strange Greek food in his lunchbox and everyone turned their nose up and the teachers assumed he was going to be a ~problem child~ because he wasn’t Anglo. He clearly loves being a giant shit, but at the same time there’s such a performative aspect to his actions — if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
And in a way, Lee Takkam is doing the same thing. Where Homer was meant to be the problem child who broke windows and vandalised toilet blocks, Lee was meant to be quiet and the model minority. He’s sixth grade piano and Ellie doesn’t really know much about him because he’s quiet in class. ‘I remember thinking that all teachers liked me, and then one day in Year 2 I heard the teacher say I was the kind of kid she’d left the city to avoid.’ That’s specifically anti-Asian racism (or at least, it can be easily read as such) because of Australian migration patterns — most immigrant communities are in the cities. Lee doesn’t have the support system of a solid community identity like Homer does. He just tried to fit the narrative because it’s easier for everyone if you don’t try to fight it. He clearly loves piano and film, don’t get me wrong — just as Homer loves breaking windows. But he’s being performative too, and I think that’s really clear in how Ellie sees everyone change after the war starts.
The only people who get entirely new facets of their identity (to Ellie, at least) when they start fighting are Fi, Homer and Lee. (Robyn’s determined fighting side has already been seen in netball games and isn’t a surprise.) Fi’s is just that she can be dropped from a much bigger height before she shatters than anyone was expecting — and she’s more surprised than anyone to discover that. But Homer and Lee both start to go directly against their accepted narratives. Homer becomes competent, level-headed and smart. Ellie repeatedly says that the adults wouldn’t have expected that change at all — because that’s not how a person like Homer is meant to act. Lee becomes violent and when he fights his eyes light up — he’s enjoying it, and Ellie doesn’t see that coming either. And while Fi is quite clearly shown as being uncertain about her new qualities, Homer and Lee aren’t, because they’re not new, they’re just parts of them they haven’t been performing until now.