Little Plastic Shipwreck

by

Cate Kennedy

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Samson Character Analysis

The only dolphin at Oceanworld, Samson is the star attraction of a marine park that is clearly past its prime. At twenty-five years old, he dies at the beginning of the story. Readers learn about Samson through Roley’s reflections, remembering the dolphin fondly as a forgiving and intelligent creature with humanlike facial expressions. This distinguishes Samson from the other animals, who, according to Roley’s characterizations, are devoid of emotional or intellectual complexity. The story is peppered with memories from the dolphin show, in which Declan recites rehearsed statistics about dolphin behaviour and anatomy, and claims to share a bond with Samson. This clashes with Declan’s callous attitude to Samson’s death, particularly his command to Declan to “cut it [the body] up.” Roley refuses, and quits his job in what appears to be a final act of loyalty to Samson.

Samson Quotes in Little Plastic Shipwreck

The Little Plastic Shipwreck quotes below are all either spoken by Samson or refer to Samson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribe Publications edition of Little Plastic Shipwreck published in 2012.
Little Plastic Shipwreck Quotes

Declan swore long and low when he came over and looked into the pool.

“Use the chains,” he said dismissively. “I reckon that thing weighs one hundred and fifty kilos. Haul it out and then drain the pool.”

“What will I do with him?” Roley couldn't help the personal pronoun, wasn't going to call Samson an “it.”

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Declan (speaker), Samson
Page Number: 186-187
Explanation and Analysis:

Roley would crouch at the edge of the platform, following Declan's repertoire of gestures and punchlines, the rhetorical questions (“And do you know WHY they breathe that way, kids? I'll tell you why!”) until he reached the point in the script where he'd say, “Well, now, a dolphin can stay underwater for up to FIFTEEN MINUTES, but luckily for us here today Samson can't wait to meet you!” and Roley would reach casually into the bucket and Samson would arc up like clockwork and break the surface, his calm, loving eye on Roley alone.

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Samson, Declan
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

Roley had a theory that the reason visitors loved Samson so much was that he was the only creature at the aquarium who seemed to be able to create a facial expression, apart from the sea-lion Rex, whose eyes were so fogged over with milky-blue cataracts […] The turtles were totally vacant—they had the hateful, icy glare of an old drunk—and of course the fish had no expression whatsoever. Just looked at you as they cruised past, a vegetable with fins. No short-term memory, that's what Kaz said when he told her his theory. “That's the cliche, right?” she said, tapping the glass of one of the tanks. “Nothing going on. You put one in a fishbowl, and they start swimming around in circles, and every time it's like: Look, a little plastic shipwreck! Five seconds later: Look, a little plastic shipwreck!

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Samson, Liz
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

Roley looked at Samson's grey flank, noticing the nicks and cuts on it, the marks and old scars. He thought, sick with grief, about the way his wife's fingers sought out the small secret place under her hair where there was a tiny dent, still. He laid his hand on that flank, feeling its muscle, and he heard the moment waiting, and said into it, “You fucking do it.”

Related Characters: Roley (speaker), Samson, Liz, Declan
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Little Plastic Shipwreck LitChart as a printable PDF.
Little Plastic Shipwreck PDF

Samson Character Timeline in Little Plastic Shipwreck

The timeline below shows where the character Samson appears in Little Plastic Shipwreck. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Little Plastic Shipwreck
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
At the start of a shift at Oceanworld, Roley goes to “say hi” to Samson. He sees a “grey familiar shape” floating on the surface of the pool: Samson, a... (full context)
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
Samson, the star of the daily dolphin show, is the last remaining dolphin at Oceanworld. The... (full context)
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
...the side of the pool where Roley is still standing beside the dead body of Samson. Declan “dismissively” tells Roley to use the chains to “haul it out,” and to drain... (full context)
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
...wait for his cue to reach for the fish in the bucket, at which point Samson would jump out of the water with his “calm, loving eye on Roley alone.” (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
Roley speculates that the reason visitors loved Samson so much was because “he was the only creature at the aquarium who seemed to... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
...I think I know how to manage my own regulations.” Roley suggests that he’ll bury Samson, and Declan, after giving him “a penguin look,” commands him instead to move the body... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
...the school holidays.” Roley smiles, recalling Declan “hammering on about echolocation.” He’d pointed out on Samson’s head “a kind of big FOREHEAD called a melon” which transmits clicks and receives echoes. (full context)
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
...game-show host.” But Roley, who “couldn’t have said why,” didn’t reach for the fish, and Samson didn’t surface. Declan, with a “tight smile,” explained to the audience that “Samson must be... (full context)
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
Roley is thinking about the accident as he goes into the cool room with Samson’s body. He rests his hand on Samson’s “round, perfectly evolved head,” and strokes his blowhole.... (full context)
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
...shop, calling it his “severance pay,” including a couple of snowdomes. He thinks again about Samson’s “merry eye,” and his gaze “holding Roley’s own” during the dolphin show, that eye “full... (full context)