Seventy-Two Derwents


Cate Kennedy

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Themes and Colors
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Power and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Repression Theme Icon
Trust Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Seventy-Two Derwents, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Relationships and Intimacy

Cate Kennedy’s “Seventy-Two Derwents” stresses the difficulties that the narrator and main character, a young girl named Tyler, encounters in maintaining intimate relationships with the people in her life. In different ways, nearly every character in the story tries to become close to her. However, while some try to build these relationships out of genuine care and concern for Tyler, others attempt to take advantage of her. In this sense, the story shows explores…

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Power and Powerlessness

One of the story’s major preoccupations is the question of power in a girl’s life: who holds it, how it works, and what its effects are. Tyler, who is about ten or eleven years old, struggles to cope with the way power is split between different authority figures who pressure her in different ways. These conflicts raise a question that Tyler wrestles with throughout the story: how to define herself when authority figures are pushing…

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Throughout the story, Tyler struggles to identify and express her feelings. She sometimes feels intense waves of negative emotion––which she often describes as a feeling of “rocks” in her stomach––but she is unable to articulate or process this feeling, and she does her best to conceal it. She does this partially out of concern for her own safety: she knows that some of her emotions, if she expressed them, would provoke negative reactions from the…

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Because of the difficulty of distinguishing people who care for her from people who want to take advantage of her, Tyler has a hard time knowing who she should trust. She feels the need to express her thoughts, but she’s unable to find an appropriate outlet aside from a private journal, which she fills with details about Shane’s shady behavior, her mother’s questionable parenting, and her own feelings of crushing anxiety. Finally, she…

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In the story, Tyler’s older sister, Ellie, expresses how much she wants to escape their family life, admitting that she’s only stayed as long as she has in order to protect Tyler. While Tyler is less direct, she implies that she, too, longs for a similar sort of escape. This longing is implied by her fixation on two objects. First, Tyler lovingly describes a handmade doll given to her by her aunt Jacinta

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