The Secret River

1123 words 5 pages
The Secret River Essay

Characters in the text The Secret River by Kate Grenville represent a variation of attitudes and views towards the colonisation of Australia and the Aboriginal Australians. While many characters are indecisive about their opinion on the natives, some characters have a clear mind-set on how they are to be treated. The characters of Thomas Blackwood and Smasher Sullivan represent the two very different sides of the moral scale, and the other characters fit between these sides. Smasher is a vicious, cold-hearted man who shows no respect or humanity towards the Aboriginals. On the other hand, Blackwood’s character contrasts Smasher with his humanity and general respect to the original owners of their new home. The
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He refers to his harmonious relationship with the natives to William where he says "A man got to pay a fair price for taking. Matter of give a little, take a little."
Blackwood’s general respect and empathy makes him frustrated and furious at the way many of the other characters in the text treat the Aboriginals.
Unlike Smasher, Blackwood tries to convey to the other characters that the Aborigines were the ones with the power to decide whether they could stay on their land or not. Readers are likely to relate to Blackwood and appreciate how his understanding of the Aboriginal’s culture influences his attitude towards them. Blackwood is a significant character in the text because he contrasts the personality of Smasher, and represents a more passive settler. Without characters like Blackwood in the novel, readers would assume that all the settlers of this time were violent and dominant over the Aboriginals and their land, which gives a false historical retelling of these events. The inclusion of Blackwood gives us another point of view to consider when making an understanding of the text.

Characters in the text The Secret River all occupy individual thoughts and approaches towards the native people of Australia. The attitudes of some characters are extreme, and their actions, relationships, and in core, their lives, revolve around these personal


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