The Lieutenant

by

Kate Grenville

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Tagaran / The Girl Character Analysis

Tagaran is a young Cadigal girl who lives in a camp near Rooke's hut. She's about twelve or thirteen years old, and she shares Rooke's love of language and learning. She and Rooke form a friendship centered around their language lessons. Unlike the other children, Tagaran doesn't get tired of repeating words slowly for Rooke, and she's very quick to pick up English. Tagaran is very curious and willing to try new things: she tries writing with Rooke's pen, and experiments with washing herself in warm water. She calls Rooke "kamara," which means friend. As their relationship develops, the greater relationship between the natives and the settlers sours. When a captain beats Tugear and Tagaran, Tagaran runs to Rooke's hut asking for help. Rooke expresses sympathy and anger for what happened, but he refuses to take action to protect his friends from the violently inclined settlers. Not long after, Tagaran pushes Rooke to show her how his gun works. Rooke finds this very disturbing, and he shows her most of how the gun works but doesn't actually load it so it expels a bullet. When Tagaran insists that he shoot the gun properly, Rooke uses physical force to stop her from grabbing at the gun. After this, Tagaran doesn't return to Rooke's hut of her own volition. Rooke begins to believe that Tagaran and the Cadigal people were only using him as a means to learn about the settlers and their guns, which he realizes is the exact same way he started out thinking about her. She does come when Rooke asks for her, and carries his warning about the punitive expedition to Warungin. During this meeting, Tagaran teaches Rooke the word "putuwa," which means warming one's hands to then warm someone else's hands. Rooke sees this as a clear example of trust and friendship, both between himself and Tagaran as well as inherent in the Cadigal culture. Rooke never forgets Tagaran and thinks about her often in his old age. He thinks of her as a southern star that he cannot see from Antigua.

Tagaran / The Girl Quotes in The Lieutenant

The The Lieutenant quotes below are all either spoken by Tagaran / The Girl or refer to Tagaran / The Girl. 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:
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove edition of The Lieutenant published in 2008.
Part 3, Chapter 2  Quotes

But language was more than a list of words, more than a collection of fragments all jumbled together like a box of nuts and bolts. Language was a machine. To make it work, each part had to be understood in relation to all the other parts.

Page Number: 152
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 5 Quotes

Language went in both directions. Without the benefit of notebooks or pencils repaired with string, the natives not only knew many words of English, but had already made them part of their own tongue, altering them as their grammar required. Bread was now breado, not simply borrowed but possessed.

Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

What had passed between Tagaran and himself had gone far beyond vocabulary or grammatical forms. It was the heart of talking; not just the words and not just the meaning, but the way in which two people had found common ground and begun to discover the true names of things.

Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 7 Quotes

He must tell, otherwise what up till now had been simply private would take on the dangerous power of a secret. The task was to tell, but to minimize.

Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

He had written as in despair in order to indicate that her despair was feigned. To him it had obviously been a joke. What native, even a child, would believe that washing would make them white? He had failed to record the joke on the page, in the same way he failed to note that they were breathing, or that their hearts were beating.

Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 8 Quotes

They all knew what he had turned his face away from: like it or not, he was Berewalgal. He wore the red coat. He carried the musket when he was told to. He stood by while a man was flogged. He would not confront a white man who had beaten his friends.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 9 Quotes

But to shoot a piece of metal out of it that could penetrate a shield or a human body and expose the shambles within: that was of another order of experience. Another language. What it said was, I can kill you.

He did not want her to learn that language. Certainly not from him.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

But written down like that, with its little full stop, the possibility of doubt was erased. The meaning would never be questioned again. What had felt like science was the worst kind of guesswork, the kind that forgets it is a guess.

Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:

What he had not learned from Latin or Greek he was learning from the people of New South Wales. It was this: you did not learn a language without entering into a relationship with the people who spoke it with you. His friendship with Tagaran was not a list of objects, or the words for things eaten or not eaten, thrown or not thrown. It was the slow constructing of the map of a relationship.

Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4, Chapter 4 Quotes

It was the simplest thing in the world. If an action was wrong, it did not matter whether it succeeded or not, or how many clever steps you took to make sure it failed. If you were part of such an act, you were part of its wrong. You did not have to take up the hatchet or even to walk along with the expedition.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Lieutenant LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Lieutenant PDF

Tagaran / The Girl Character Timeline in The Lieutenant

The timeline below shows where the character Tagaran / The Girl appears in The Lieutenant. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3, Chapter 2 
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
...palm and speaks, and then purses her lips at Rooke. Rooke repeats what she says—"marray”—and the girl smiles. She says the word again and motions to the rain. (full context)
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...wonders why he can make small talk now but never when he actually needs to. The girl looks seriously at Rooke and speaks slowly and clearly. Rooke struggles to mimic the sounds,... (full context)
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...work to finally make sense of it. Finally, he gets it: the girl's name is Tagaran. She smiles when he says it. (full context)
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Rooke pulls down a notebook and writes down Tagaran's name as well as the two other phrases. He reads the phrases back to her,... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3
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...The women leisurely saunter down with their babies and start a fire, and the boy, Tagaran, and the other shy girl from before come into the hut. The boy shouts at... (full context)
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Rooke points to himself and says his name, and then points to Tagaran and says her name. He gestures to the boy and the other girl. The other... (full context)
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Rooke points to his head and makes a curious face. Tagaran understands immediately, and begins pointing to different parts of her head and face and offering... (full context)
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...grab his jacket and pinch one of the fleas. Rooke mimes a flea jumping, and Tagaran gives the word "burudu." She picks up the jacket and seems to ask what it's... (full context)
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Rooke takes his jacket back, puts it on, and takes it off again. Tagaran copies the motions of shrugging off a jacket and offers a word. She stops Rooke... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4
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...the natives have been visiting him, but thinks that what had passed between him and Tagaran was private. Rooke says instead that he hopes there are no attacks or uprisings, and... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 5
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After Warungin's lesson, the children join Rooke at the hut. Tagaran, Boneda, and Worogan always come, sometimes accompanied by two girls named Tugear and Ngalgear who... (full context)
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As Tagaran gives Rooke more words, he abandons his system and starts using a pencil rather than... (full context)
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One afternoon, Tagaran runs into the hut, wet and covered in goose bumps. She tells Rooke to get... (full context)
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Rooke instantly regrets that he touched Tagaran, and thinks of how he'd feel if some native man had touched Anne like that.... (full context)
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Rooke takes his time recording their conversation. When he's done, Tagaran is dry and he has stopped blushing. She follows Rooke to his water source, where... (full context)
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When Rooke finishes, Tagaran picks up the kettle and asks permission to pour the leftover warm water into the... (full context)
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Rooke takes Tagaran's hands and lathers them with soap. He gently wipes her face with a cloth and... (full context)
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As evening comes, the women pick up their babies. Rooke sees Tagaran and Worogan whispering together, and Tagaran speaks to Rooke and makes a sleeping gesture. Rooke... (full context)
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Rooke shares his dinner with Tagaran and Worogan, and makes sweet tea with the warraburra leaves. They find the teacups extraordinary.... (full context)
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Rooke records the joke he and Tagaran shared earlier in his notebook, and adds an explanation of what was happening. He realizes... (full context)
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A few minutes later, Tagaran calls to Rooke. When he asks in her language why she isn't sleeping, she asks... (full context)
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...brandy, and goes outside to look at the moon. He thinks about the way that Tagaran calls him “kamara,” and wonders if this is how it feels to be a parent.... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6
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...he doesn't know what he's about to witness. Rooke cautiously scans the trees, hoping that Tagaran isn't watching. He wonders if he does catch sight of her if he would break... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 7
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...Rooke has been up to. Rooke knows that he must tell, or his friendship with Tagaran will become a dangerous secret. (full context)
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...Silk's face. Silk reads out loud what Rooke wrote about the joke he shared with Tagaran about becoming white if she washed herself. Silk doesn't understand it was a joke, and... (full context)
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...then yells "No!" Silk smiles, and Rooke knows that Silk believes that his relationship with Tagaran is sexual. Rooke tries to calmly explain that two children had been arguing and one... (full context)
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...and realizes too that he doesn't have the English words to describe his relationship with Tagaran. Rooke feels as though his decision not to tell anyone about his friendship with the... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 8
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A week later, Tagaran, Tugear, and Worogan race down the path to Rooke's hut, yelling for him. They're breathless... (full context)
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Rooke takes Tagaran's hands in his own and gently inspects her swollen hand. Tagaran pulls her hand back... (full context)
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Rooke tells the girls that he's very angry, but he knows he doesn't sound angry. Tagaran asks if he's angry with them, which shocks him. He insists he's not angry with... (full context)
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...break the biscuit and finally cuts it with his hatchet. Worogan and Tugear laugh, but Tagaran isn't amused. (full context)
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Rooke asks Tagaran if her finger is better, and he thinks her reply means that her finger is... (full context)
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...captain of the Charlotte and reporting the sailor, and knows it's impossible. He wonders if Tagaran's request was a test she knew he would fail, and he understands that they all... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 9
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...glad to see them, but he also detects a sense of dread in his heart. Tagaran enters the hut and picks up Rooke's musket. Rooke tries to stop her, but she... (full context)
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Rooke takes the gun from Tagaran, but she picks it back up and, with gestures, asks how it works. Rooke thinks... (full context)
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Somehow, Tagaran knows there's more. Rooke shows her how the gun creates a spark, but Tagaran insists... (full context)
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Tagaran isn't fooled. She knows that the bullet didn't leave the barrel. Rooke wishes she were... (full context)
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Rooke realizes he's angry. Tagaran spits out angry words that Rooke can't understand in reply, and he lets her go... (full context)
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Rooke sits on his bed and wonders why Tagaran wanted to know how to fire a gun. He wonders if she'd been chosen to... (full context)
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...he thinks that he doesn't understand how this world of New South Wales works like Tagaran does, and thinks that Tagaran would be similarly blind and lost in Portsmouth. (full context)
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Rooke recalls telling Tagaran about Portsmouth. He'd told her that there's a harbor, and he'd remembered being a boy... (full context)
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Rooke wonders what it's like to be Tagaran and walk around naked and barefoot. He looks around and makes sure he's totally alone... (full context)
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At his hut, Rooke gets out his notebooks. He understands that Tagaran likely won't return, and the notebooks are all he'll have of their friendship. He opens... (full context)
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...edits several of his entries to encompass some of his doubt, including the one about Tagaran standing by his fire after bathing. He realizes he made a mistake in his translation... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 1
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The next day, Rooke jumps up when he hears footsteps, hoping it's Tagaran. It's Silk, with a serious look on his face. Silk explains that they're being sent... (full context)
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...governor is already aware that Rooke will join: refusing isn't an option. Rooke thinks of Tagaran watching him march through the woods. (full context)
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...thinks that he can't tell Silk that he can't go because he's too fond of Tagaran. Instead, he asks Silk to not ask this of him. Silk clears his throat and... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 2
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...shows Rooke a lizard he caught. Rooke bluntly tells Boneda that he wants to see Tagaran, and asks him if he'll pass on the message. Rooke doesn't understand Boneda's reply, but... (full context)
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Tagaran appears in the doorway. The two hesitantly sit at the table and after a moment... (full context)
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Rooke reminds Tagaran of when she asked him to show her how the musket worked. He asks her... (full context)
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Rooke continues, and says that tomorrow, they're going out after six men. He asks Tagaran in Cadigal if she will tell Warungin. Rooke sees that Tagaran understands that it's significant... (full context)
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Tagaran goes to the fire and warms her hands. She returns to Rooke and gestures for... (full context)
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Tagaran tells Rooke she has to go. They look at each other, and Rooke thinks they... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 3
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...on a promontory. Rooke thinks it's a surprisingly good plan and without his warning to Tagaran, it might have worked. Rooke remembers Silk insisting that he think of it as theatre... (full context)
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...away. He can see a child in the back of it, and he thinks of Tagaran. (full context)
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...Wales so that he can remain here, learning the language and continuing his relationship with Tagaran. (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 4
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...gone now. He can no longer think of the natives as strangers. He thinks of Tagaran asleep by a fire somewhere, and thinks that he doesn't know how to describe how... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 1
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Rooke thinks of "putuwa," the word that Tagaran taught him. He thinks that it's dusk in New South Wales, and Tagaran is a... (full context)
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Rooke could see a few natives on the point, including Tagaran. She had come to see him that morning, more subdued than usual. She had gone... (full context)
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Rooke and Tagaran looked at each for a moment when the men arrived to carry Rooke's chest down... (full context)