'A Child in the Dark, and a Foreign Father' is considered particularly significant, in that it was completed shortly before Lawson's attempted suicide that same year and so clearly marks the end of his creative period.
In his autobiography, Lawson quotes a friend's advice to him on a projected book about Bush people: "Treated ruthlessly, Rousseaulike, without regard to your own or others' feelings, what a notable book yours would be!" It is often believed that this story was begun under the influence of such advice.
The story itself is often read as a partial autobiography, perhaps recounting Lawson's obviously distressing childhood memories. Not unlike Lawson's famous early work, "The Drover's Wife," 'A Child in the Dark, and a Foreign Father" deals with the relationship of parent and child, but the writing style has vastly changed in the years separating the writing of the two. The sketch appears to lack the evocative impressonistic descriptions which carry so much emotional force in his best work, and is written with an impersonality of tone that is quite uncharacteristic.