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Conflict in The Secret River

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Christopher McDuff

on 17 May 2015

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Transcript of Conflict in The Secret River

Inner Conflict
Thornhill reverting to stealing and crime to survive in London
People are forced to make difficult decisions in order to survive and protect their loved ones.
Thornhill surprised at his own tyranny towards the indigenous
Unfamiliar circumstances and fear can cause people to act in ways they never thought they would.
Dan Oldfield and his desire to escape
We are often faced with the decision to accept the status quo or fight for freedom.
Sal torn between her homesickness and support for Will.
Sometimes people have to make sacrifices for those they love.
Thornhill's desire for land and power and what he is willing to do to protect it
People desire power, which is gained through material possessions such as land, money and capital. This often puts them at odds with their moral actions.
Conflict in The Secret River
Person Against Person Conflict
Thornhill and Captain Suckling
People need to subjugate others to reaffirm their own power .
Smasher Sullivan and the indigenous people
Fear and power creates violence.

Colonialism, or conflict involving unequal power, can have brutal consequences.
Smasher Sullivan and Blackwood's conflict of ideology
People often hold strongly opposing sets of beliefs even within the same side of a conflict.
Thornhill's conflict with the indigenous people
Inability to communicate causes conflict
People carry the views and beliefs of their culture, perpetuating conflict.
Person Against Society
Thornhill trying to make something of himself against a rigid social hierarchy
It is difficult to break out of your fixed position in society.
Blackwood fights against his own culture's expectations of him
Communication, understanding are key to moving past conflict
It is the individual's responsibility to overcome conflict and stand up to what society dictates to them.
Scabby Bill represents the damage inflicted on the indigenous people by the settlers.
A society's actions can have severe consequences on powerless individuals.
Group Against Group
Colonialists against the indigenous
A group with power can take advantage of one without, with severe consequences.
Differences in race, culture, religion and language can result in conflict.
Colonisation of Australia justified by religion.
People seek to justify their actions in conflict by hiding behind a particular ideology.
'Civilised' vs 'Savage'
Right and wrong are subjective in conflict; a matter of perspective.
Conflict stems from a fear of the unknown.
The lower class in London stealing from the rich/the rich taking advantage of the poor
There is always friction where there are different power relations, particularly within social hierarchies.
Fear and hatred are heightened by rumours and the media.
Fear/conflict can be heightened and spread by those with power.
Thornhill is torn between Smasher Sullivan and Blackwood.
Inner conflict arises from being confronted by two competing sets of beliefs.

Thornhill's guilt over his past actions.
We cannot escape our past mistakes, as it continues to haunt us until we set out to atone.
“Thornhill remembered hunger well enough. He thought a man who had once known hunger would never forget it.” [pg 328]
"there could be no sin in thieving if it meant a full belly." [p16]
"Five years, she repeated, binding him to the promise." [p123]
"He had a sudden dizzying understanding of the way men were ranged on top of each other, all the way from the Thornhills at the bottom up to the King, or God." [p26]
"he was the same as the ants or the flies, a hazard of the place that had to be dealt with." [p91]
"The Gazette had a handy expression that covered all things the black did, and suggested others: outrages and depredations." [p95]
"Ain't nothin' in this world for taking ... A man got to pay a fair price for taking ... Matter of give a little, take a little." [p104]
"Perhaps it was because she had not felt the rope around her neck. That changed a man forever." [p111]
"My own, he kepts saying to himself. My place. Thornhill's place." [p139]
"It was the way the gentry had spoken to him." [p144]
"A man never knew what kind of stuff he was made of, until the situation arose to bring it out of him." [177]
"We give them something every time, we'll never see the end of it ... They'll be want want wanting, till we got nothing left." [p192]
"He longed for words." [p197]
"They stared at each other, their words between them like a wall." [197
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