Secret River Essay

1671 Words Oct 23rd, 2012 7 Pages
Shaira Sanchez
Shaira Sanchez
The Secret River by Kate Grenville

Explain the way that narrative devices have been employed by an author to construct a representation of people or places in at least one text that you have studied. You must make specific reference to “The Secret River.”

One of Australia’s finest writers Kate Grenville wrote The Secret River which challenges traditional gender roles of women in the early nineteenth century London and Australia. The novel has challenged the female stereotype in a patriarchal society through the strong female character of Sal Thornhill. Sal has been the brains of her family through their tough times in London and their settlement in Sydney. Sal is the wife
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The other sort of native were the ‘invisible’ ones who stayed away from the settlement. They were represented through Long Jack’s strong character. The settlers did not initially affect them, but they saw them as “snakes or the spiders, not something that could be guarded against” which symbolises as a threat to their dreams. The blacks, on the other hand had a different view of what the settlers referred to as ‘stealing’. Their belief is that nobody owns the land, not them, not the settlers. This clash of beliefs has lead to the novel’s climax, the massacre, where the ‘invisible’ became ‘visible’. The way Thornhill addresses the natives and were given English names symbolises Thornhill’s attitude being Eurocentric. Thornhill did not want to be engaged to the natives, but he himself implanted the European traditions on them.

The settlers did not have the same beliefs towards the blacks, just like the natives were to them which also lead to two different representations–one that respects the ‘otherness’ and one that doesn’t. A huge contrast in the characters was made in the novel between Blackwood and Smasher. Blackwood was described as a huge deep and silent man who had “a rough dignity about him”. He believed in the concept of “give a little, take a little” in terms of dealing with the blacks. While Smasher’s appearance was constructed as “a naked-looking face without eyebrows” and always craves for

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