Swallow the Air

by

Tara June Winch

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Percy Gibson Character Analysis

Mum’s cousin, and the one relative May finds at the end of her journey. Living with his wife Dotty in a tidy suburban house and devoted to golf, Percy has moved away from his Aboriginal roots and is intent on assimilating into Anglo-Australian society. His lifestyle is a marked contrast to the thriving, traditional society May had hoped to find. Percy shows May that she can’t resolve her dissatisfaction with her own life and the situation of Aborigines in Australia by recreating the pre-colonial past; rather, she has to honor and preserve her heritage while moving forward into the future.

Percy Gibson Quotes in Swallow the Air

The Swallow the Air quotes below are all either spoken by Percy Gibson or refer to Percy Gibson. 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:
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Queensland Press edition of Swallow the Air published in 2006.
18. Country Quotes

There is a big missing hole between this place and the place you’re looking for. That place, that people, that something you’re looking for. It’s gone. It was taken away. We weren’t told, love; we weren’t allowed to be Aboriginal.

Related Characters: Percy Gibson (speaker), May Gibson
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Swallow the Air LitChart as a printable PDF.
Swallow the Air PDF

Percy Gibson Character Timeline in Swallow the Air

The timeline below shows where the character Percy Gibson appears in Swallow the Air. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
18. Country
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Displacement Theme Icon
...all, but when she calls her husband into the hall May sees that the man, Percy, looks just like Mum. When May says that her mother is June Gibson, the man... (full context)
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Puzzled by the unexpected visit, Percy invites May to sit down and pours her a drink. He asks after Mum and... (full context)
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Surprised and angry, May says that she didn’t come “for friggin money.” Percy tells her to “spit out” the reason for her visit, as he has to leave... (full context)
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Percy laughs and derides May for wanting to know “ya tribal name, ya totem, ya star... (full context)
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Displacement Theme Icon
...asks what it was like growing up in the mission and learning from the elders. Percy tells her that she’s just like her grandmother Alice, who “died of hope.” He says... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
May thinks Percy is on the verge of tears, but he looks around his neatly furnished living room... (full context)
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
May walks away from Percy’s house on the highway, which is windy but still full of dust. It will take... (full context)