Robert Newton

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Themes and Colors
Money, Class, and Community  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Grief  Theme Icon
Ambition Theme Icon
Crime Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Runner, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Money, Class, and Community

Runner takes place in the impoverished slums of Richmond, Australia, and Charlie Feehan, the protagonist, is keenly aware of how poverty disadvantages him and his neighbors. The Feehans are too poor to afford necessities like firewood and too focused on scraping by to dedicate time to grieve Charlie’s father, the late Mr. Feehan. Their neighbors, Mr. Redmond and Mrs. Redmond, are slightly better off, but they still cannot afford dental care for…

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Growing Up

Runner follows the adolescent Charlie as he is thrust into the role of “man of the house” after his father’s death. Charlie remarks in his narration that when the undertakers took his father’s body away, they took Charlie’s childhood with them. Charlie’s many responsibilities force him to grow up quickly, but although Charlie learns how to act like an adult, he is ultimately still a child in the process of maturing.

Charlie discusses his…

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Throughout Runner, the death of Charlie’s father, Mr. Feehan, weighs heavily on Charlie and his mother. Charlie feels his father’s absence throughout the story; he repeatedly encounters situations that remind him of memories with his father and faces challenges that he wishes Mr. Feehan could guide him through. Mr. Feehan’s constant presence in Charlie’s thoughts is painful for Charlie, but it also helps him come to terms with his father’s death…

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Charlie Feehan grows up poor in the slums of Richmond, Australia, and his background inspires an ambition and a drive to accomplish “something more” than his life has given him. When Squizzy Taylor’s criminal lifestyle reveals how dangerous and self-serving ambition can be, Charlie doesn’t lose his ambition, but he does redirect it, transforming his desire for “something more” into a desire to do “something good.” Charlie wants more than a stable, comfortable life—he…

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Runner follows Charlie Feehan’s entrance into Richmond’s world of organized crime, which is gradually taking over Melbourne. At first, Charlie romanticizes both crime and the more illicit aspects of urban life, and since he has few alternatives for helping support his family, he readily joins in. But once he starts working for Squizzy Taylor’s gang, he realizes that organized crime is far from his romantic notion of it. Charlie decides to apply to…

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