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Literature / The Secret River

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The Secret River by Kate Grenville is a historical novel set mostly in Victorian Australia, following the life of William Thornhill, a desperately poor man who stole to survive and was eventually convicted, deported and became a settler at British colony of New South Wales (Sydney).

The novel focuses on the effect of colonialism on Australian native people (Aborigines) and how the conflict between the settlers and the natives came about.

This book provides examples of:

  • Foil: Blackwood becomes a heroic foil to Thornhill.
  • Heel Realisation: A halfway one. Thornhill realizes that what he is doing is evil, but in the same paragraph says he is "not an evil man".
  • Obviously Evil: When we are introduced to Smasher Sullivan, he is standing by the body of a man he killed for stealing a cob of his corn.
  • Purple Prose: Parodied with the letter to Lord Hawkesbury and with Loveday. Played straight a lot.
  • Settling the Frontier: With an emphasis on how the settlers interacted with the native population.