Seventy-Two Derwents

by

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.
Trust Theme Icon

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 takes a leap of faith by submitting her journal to her sixth-grade teacher, Mrs Carlyle, despite the risks entailed by that submission. This moment, and the events leading up to it, shows the vulnerability involved in trust and stresses the amount of blind faith required to put one’s well-being in the hands of another.

Tyler’s inability to confide in anyone other than a journal shows how difficult she finds it to trust other people and how badly she needs an emotional outlet. She begins writing a journal without conscious reflection about her reasons for doing so, noting that it was merely a class assignment. However, it quickly becomes clear that other students are not writing as much as she is. Moreover, she writes about extremely private feelings––things she won’t admit to other people in her life—indicating that Tyler finds the journal significantly more useful than the other students. The eagerness with which she takes part in the assignment shows that she needs an outlet for her intense, accumulated emotional energy. However, her inability to confide to any outlet other than a private journal shows how difficult she finds it to trust other people.

Tyler submits her anonymous journal to Mrs Carlyle without consciously thinking through the potential consequences of that submission, describing it as a decision made on impulse. She claims that she turned in her journal simply because it occurred to her to do so while alone in the classroom; moreover, she reacts with shock when Mrs Carlyle informs her that she’s reported its contents to the authorities. This shows that she hadn’t considered––or, perhaps, hadn’t allowed herself to consider––the practical consequences of her actions.

However, Tyler’s knowledge of how dangerous it can be to express oneself make it unlikely that she did not understand these consequences. She already knows that child protection took her sister Tegan away from her mother. Moreover, Tyler’s life at home, tiptoeing around her mother and Shane, has made her far more sensitive than most children to the risks of speaking one’s mind. For these reasons, it seems implausible that Tyler would overlook the consequences of giving her teacher access to something as personal as her journal. It makes more sense to conclude that she stuffed down her rational fear of the consequences of her actions for the sake of an irrational act of blind trust.

Given that Mrs Carlyle is one of the only adult authority figures with whom Tyler feels safe, it also makes sense that Tyler would choose to be vulnerable around her above all others. Generally, Tyler distrusts teachers: she mentions that she never wants to tell teachers whens he likes something, because they use that knowledge “to make you do something they want.” However, she specifically excepts Mrs Carlyle from that rule, showing the special place she holds in Tyler’s life. This affection was likely a major influence on Tyler’s decision to submit her journal, an act of personal bravery which shows the depth of her faith in Mrs Carlyle. In submitting her journal, Tyler forces herself to overlook the potential consequences of her actions in order to ask for the help she so desperately needs, showing the depth of her faith in her teacher. In this sense, the story portrays trust as an expression of blind faith in the goodness of another person rather than the result of careful planning and calculation.

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Trust ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Trust appears in each chapter of Seventy-Two Derwents. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Trust Quotes in Seventy-Two Derwents

Below you will find the important quotes in Seventy-Two Derwents related to the theme of Trust.
Seventy-Two Derwents Quotes

Mrs Carlyle has two budgies, a boy and a girl, and they have built a nest. If they have baby budgies and if I’m allowed she will give me one. You have to wait until they’re old enough to leave the nest before you can take them away from their parents because they need special looking after. In my mind I can picture this ... after she says this, when I walk back into class and down to my desk, I feel my skin buzzing like someone stroked it.

Related Characters: Tyler (speaker), Mrs Carlyle
Related Symbols: Mrs Carlyle’s Budgies
Page Number: 225-6
Explanation and Analysis:

I said I love her, I love her crown, thank you. Aunty Jacinta leaned over and gave me a hug and she smelled so nice, not like perfume but just cups of tea and shampoo, and she said softly she doesn’t have to be Cinderella, Tyler, you can give her a new name if you like. Then my mum jumped up and said are we allowed to have a glass of wine or do we have to say grace first round here.

Related Characters: Tyler (speaker), Tyler and Ellie’s Mother, Aunty Jacinta
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:

I didn’t know Ellie has bad dreams too. Sometimes I dream of a wolf. He’s coming for me and his eyes are on fire and he’s looking everywhere for me but he can’t find me. I don’t tell Ellie about this but I say sometimes I feel like I have a stone inside my stomach. Ellie doesn’t say anything for a while then she says, hey, what are those pencils called that you like? I tell her Derwents and she says we’ll get you those, you wait.

Related Characters: Ellie (speaker), Tyler, Shane
Related Symbols: Derwent Pencils
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

If your budgie’s eggs hatch please will you call one of the babies Alicia. One day I will get an aviary and then I will come and get her, Mrs Carlyle. That’s my promise.

Related Characters: Tyler (speaker), Mrs Carlyle
Related Symbols: Mrs Carlyle’s Budgies
Page Number: 263-4
Explanation and Analysis: