Moral Integrity Essay of the Natives in ‘The Lieutenant’ by Kate Grenville

 Image result for images of the lieutenant by kate grenvilleFor Mainstream English Year 12 students studying the novel The Lieutenant written by Kate Grenville, AOS1: Unit 3, Reading and Creating Texts, Analytical Response Outcome.  See below an Introduction with clear Main Contention and Message of Author colour coded and a brief Plan of Body Paragraphs with Conclusion.

Prompt:               “Grenville’s characterisation of the natives in The Lieutenant suggests that they have greater moral integrity than the British”.  Do you agree?

Define moral integrity = following your moral or ethical convictions & doing the right thing in all circumstances

Introduction / Main ContentionMessage of Author

The moral decay at the heart of the British settlement of NSW in 1788 was destructive, immoral and self-perpetrating [committing].  In Kate Grenville’s novel The Lieutenant she ensures that the arrival of the British on Australian shores is to be interpreted not as one of history’s memorable moments but also as a scene of farce [mockery] and arrogant assumptions imbued [infused] with an implication of violence towards the local native men, who are assumed to have the mentality of children.  An inauspicious [unfavourable] first contact, throughout which it is the natives who maintain dignity.  In fact, the novel pivots [hinges] on the notion of moral integrity.  How the young Daniel Rooke comes to harbour a mature and moral outlook that defines him as an adult is the central driving force of the narrative.  Yet for all his dominance, Rooke is not the only character to display worthy values.  Grenville surrounds her protagonist’s tale with other ethical characters, in particular the natives, who serve to throw Rooke into relief [respite].  This not only illuminates Rooke’s progress as a character but gives the natives a moral autonomy and certitude [assurance] of their own.  Above all Grenville highlights how the relationship between Rooke and the natives Tagaran and Warungin shows a more hopeful perspective of possible harmony between two different cultures when patience, tolerance, understanding and moral integrity are valued instead of conflict.

Brief Plan of Body Paragraphs and Conclusion

Body Paragraph 1     Rooke’s journey towards moral integrity is born out of understanding the might of the British Empire

Body Paragraph 2     Warungin – proud leader and protector of his people – intelligent and intuitive – shows dignity & simple friendliness – feeds the troop fish echoing the biblical miracle of Jesus – he is compassionate even though the British intended harm – symbolism of the hatchet & bags nearby and the possibility of violence

Tagaran – has unique qualities – is intelligent and fearless – her connection to Rooke reminds us of the central theme of language as a mode of communication which is essential in all human relationships

Body Paragraph 3     Rooke’s crisis of morals in the punitive expedition – his ethics are compromised – he considers his participation in the mission to mark him with the same moral stain he believed the Governor had shown in ordering the be-headings of the natives

Conclusion / Message of Author

Unfortunately, the first settlement of the British on native land in NSW in 1788 contrasts sharply with any attempt at harmony when a British Officer shatters a native shield with gunshot.  Yet as the narrative unfolds Grenville paints a picture of the British as terrifying, unthinking and powerful against the natives who are rendered powerless but showing more moral integrity.  Certainly, the character of Rooke is represented as admirable and moral, who saw the natives as not so different from himself, which underlies the adage of treating others as you would like to be treated yourself.  By demonstrating Rooke as an admiral character the text argues that human commonality should be respected.  More importantly, the novel suggests that friendships with people who have strong morals, goals and interests can make for bonds which reward both parties.  It is through the native characters of Warungin and Taragan that Grenville highlights the importance of searching for common ground and understanding rather than submission to a greater force and conflict.

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