Little Plastic Shipwreck


Cate Kennedy

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Themes and Colors
Humans, Animals, and Consciousness Theme Icon
Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion Theme Icon
Artifice vs. Reality Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Little Plastic Shipwreck, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Humans, Animals, and Consciousness

In “Little Plastic Shipwreck,” Roley grieves for his wife, Liz, who has been left with brain damage after an accident at a friend’s party. Simultaneously, while Roley is working at Oceanworld theme park, an elderly dolphin named Samson dies. Cate Kennedy draws parallels between Samson’s humanlike intelligence and emotion and the “lovely, witty” person Liz was before the accident. Furthermore, Roley’s descriptions of his wife post-accident resemble his descriptions of the other animals at…

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Hierarchy, Authority, and Compassion

“Little Plastic Shipwreck” is a story defined by the hierarchy of the protagonist’s workplace, Oceanworld, in which Roley is positioned between his boss Declan at the top and the animals at the bottom. However, despite the apparent rigidity of this hierarchy, Roley succeeds in subverting it in subtle ways throughout the story through moments of compassion. By depicting the ways in which compassion can work as a counterforce to an oppressive hierarchy within the small-scale…

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Artifice vs. Reality

In “Little Plastic Shipwreck,” Cate Kennedy sets up an opposition between the way things really are and the people want to present things. The shining, glamorous, happy place that Oceanworld advertises sits in sharp contrast with the bleak and decrepit reality of the park. Furthermore, Declan’s persona as the enthusiastic, knowledgeable and compassionate dolphin trainer poses a stark opposition to his shallow and rather cruel personality outside of this role. Through this series of…

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