Swallow the Air

by

Tara June Winch

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Uncle / Graham Character Analysis

An old man May meets while looking for her Gibson relatives in the mission outside Eubalong. Like Issy, Uncle is an Aboriginal elder who helps May gain more knowledge about her people by telling her about the history of the mission and the people who live there. His depiction of the government’s forcible relocation of Aboriginals from desirable property in Sydney to dismal settlements in the dry countryside illuminates the connection between the public housing projects that are ubiquitous throughout the novel and the historical displacement Aboriginal Australians have experienced since European colonization.
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Uncle / Graham Character Timeline in Swallow the Air

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle / Graham appears in Swallow the Air. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
17. Mission
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Displacement Theme Icon
...his porch. He tells her that his name is Graham but she can call him Uncle. May asks if he knows any Gibsons, but the only ones Uncle remembers live far... (full context)
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Uncle tells May about the history of the mission. In 1947, the government built the mission... (full context)
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Displacement Theme Icon
Uncle says that May must have observed this pattern in Sydney as well. Without any meaningful... (full context)
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Displacement Theme Icon
“Our people,” Uncle says, have “seen forty bloody millenniums” and the government, which has been around for much... (full context)
Aboriginal Identity Theme Icon
Betty’s car pulls up across the street and Uncle wishes May good luck, telling her to take off her hat when she talks to... (full context)