Swallow the Air


Tara June Winch

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The Man / The Rapist Character Analysis

A white man who rapes May while she’s walking along the beach near her house. This is a traumatic event, which informs May’s disillusionment with her childhood and her decision to leave home. May feels a deep spiritual connection to the ocean, because she’s always lived there and because her tribe, the Wiradjuri, have an affinity for water; however, the rapist tells her that she doesn’t “belong” there and assaults her to assert his ownership of the land and control of the people who live there. This reflects the broader relationship between Aboriginal and Anglo-Australians, who enforce their control of the land by brutal oppression of its original inhabitants.
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The Man / The Rapist Character Timeline in Swallow the Air

The timeline below shows where the character The Man / The Rapist appears in Swallow the Air. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
4. My Bleeding Palm
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Displacement Theme Icon
...creek, where she won’t be seen. Up ahead, two gangs of men are fighting; one man spots May and shouts out to his friends, but they pay him no mind and... (full context)
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Displacement Theme Icon
The man finds May and drops the bottle he’s carrying. She runs toward the water but trips... (full context)
9. The Block
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Displacement Theme Icon
One day, an old woman walking through the park sees May and coaxes her out of the gazebo. She tells... (full context)
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
...train station, May washes her face and looks at herself in the mirror. The old woman’s kindly reassurance that “you got family in the city too girl” makes her think of... (full context)