The Secret River

Why, in spite of hard work and sacrifice, don’t they have everything they wanted?

At the end it appears that William and Sal have realized all that they set out to do. They are successful, rich, and leading a life they could never have dreamed of back in London. However, their beautiful, grand new house isn’t quite right and Sal’s garden will not grow.

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From birth, William has always had a void present within him. When he was young that was physical hunger, and from the moment he started to understand the harsh British class system it was his want, his need to become part of the gentry. Although William does achieve what he set out to do in becoming part of the gentry he feels as if his role there was gained in a superficial and fake way. He rose to the top by killing innocent Aborigines, so, as he filled the hole of his want to be gentry he created another by killing innocent people. Also, Sal never felt right in Australia. Australia simply isn't the same as their home back in London and Sal is never satisfied with it. She tries to bring in bits of London through a garden but, of course, it will not grow because Australia has a completely different climate and is thousands of miles away. This physical difference also represents the metaphorical distance Sal feels in Australia, it was never her home and it never will be.