The Secret River

The Secret River Analytical Essay 11th Grade

Early European settlers did not understand that, as the original inhabitants of Australia, the Aboriginal people were entitled to the land, yet they did not claim ownership of it for their possession. However, the Aboriginal people belonged to Australia and its natural environment. Kate Grenville canvasses the concepts of belonging and alienation in her novel “The Secret River” through her manipulation of aesthetic features; symbolism, characterisation, and setting. The literary devices enable the readers to solidify their understanding of the protagonist William Thornhill. Through Thornhill, it is apparent that ownership does not necessarily warrant the sense of belonging. Unlike the Aboriginal people, Thornhill strived to manipulate the realm of land under his possession, yet he was continually alienated.

The symbolism of marks throughout the novel is exploited to emphasize Thornhill’s perpetual attempts to assert ownership on the land. The marks represent the disjunction between man and nature. Thornhill’s belief of entitlement of the land is explicitly portrayed in three incidents; when Thornhill carves a map on the dust to show the Aboriginal men his possession of land (p196); when the dirt is ‘marked with dark stains’...

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