The Lieutenant

by

Kate Grenville

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Lieutenant can help.

The Lieutenant: Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Rooke is halfway up the hillside, he stops to look down. He hears the bell chime from Sirius that it's half past three, which means it's half past five in Greenwich. Rooke thinks that the clock at his parents' house shows the same time, and thinks of Anne asleep. He realizes how far away from home he is. When Rooke finally reaches the top of the hill and walks out to the point, he sees that there's a clear spot that will be a perfect location for his observatory. The point is about a mile away from the settlement, and Rooke thinks that, from here, he can be part of the settlement but not inhabit it. He can be himself here.
By choosing this particular spot for his observatory, Rooke begins to split hairs regarding what community truly means. He decides that community is partially contingent on proximity, and he'll be able to be a fully independent individual by not inhabiting the settlement. Thinking about Anne in the same thought, however, suggests that this logic is flawed: he still feels connected to her, even if he's halfway around the world.
Themes
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Related Quotes
As Rooke turns to head back, he notices two native men. They're not looking at him. Rooke calls to them, but they continue to ignore him and walk down to some pools of water below the point. Rooke rehearses what he'll say to them, but he finds himself unable to get their attention. He watches them spear fish in the pool and thinks that Silk or Gardiner wouldn't allow the native men to ignore them. Rooke continues to rehearse what he'll say when they pass back by him, but the men move away in a different direction.
Notice that Rooke feels entitled to speak with these native men. Even if Rooke is disenchanted with the British military and the starker racism of his society, he still shares the mindset that Britain has the right to these faraway lands and the people that inhabit them. Rooke is very much a part of the military and cannot escape the fact that he's a soldier on the side of colonialism.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
When Rooke brings up his plans for building his observatory on the point with Governor Gilbert, Gilbert forbids him from doing so. Rooke is taken aback and argues, saying that the comet Dr. Vickery predicted is extremely important. Gilbert insists that Rooke can build his observatory closer to the settlement, but Rooke insists that the observatory must be in perfect darkness and that his "limited" abilities mean that he needs to work in complete silence. Both statements are lies, but Rooke watches Gilbert thinking it over. Finally, Gilbert agrees, but instructs Rooke to keep his musket loaded at all times. Rooke turns away and realizes that he must keep in mind how precarious his position is. He thinks he must keep his true desires secret from the governor, or the governor will surely make Rooke aware of his lowly status.
Once again, in order to get what he wants, Rooke fabricates truth. This shows that he's absolutely capable of the same kind of storytelling he believes Silk uses, where the truth is questionable or wholly absent. Gilbert's command to keep the musket loaded again calls the order to establish kind relationships with the natives into question. It suggests that the settlers are fearful or don't trust the natives to treat them with "amity and kindness," and that the language of violence might need to be employed to make things clear.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Rooke's plan for the observatory looks strange on paper. After some grumbling, Major Wyatt allows Rooke to take some men to erect a tent and build the observatory. The carpenter is wary and confused when Rooke explains the plan, and Rooke can tell he is offended by the structure's strangeness when the observatory is finally completed. It takes months to complete, even with Rooke working beside the prisoners, but Rooke is finally able to move onto the point. Alone there for the first time, Rooke feels as though the place is truly his own. Here, he can think out loud without being judged, and feels as though he can finally become himself.
As he did when he was a child, Rooke cultivates a personal environment in which he can pursue his own interests, while technically remaining a part of a greater community. This shows that Rooke hasn't yet come upon a sense of community with actual people that outweighs his desire to be alone and undisturbed. It's worth noting too that Rooke's communication skills are improving. Though the carpenter is offended, Rooke conveys what he wants and gets it.
Themes
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Get the entire The Lieutenant LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Lieutenant PDF
It's still early in 1788 when Rooke finishes the observatory, but the comet isn't predicted to appear until the end of the year. Rooke realizes it's important to act the part of a dedicated scientist in the meantime, so he digs out the meteorological instruments Dr. Vickery provided and sets them up. Rooke sets up his ledgers to record his readings at six points throughout the day, and takes his first readings.
When Rooke notes that he must be seen as a scientist, he muddies the division between truth and storytelling. Both Rooke and the reader know by this point that being a scientist isn't just an act for Rooke; it's who he is—yet he has to falsify his activities to seem more necessary to the settlement. This thus shows Rooke using the truth to tell a story.
Themes
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Rooke spends his nights peering through his telescope at the southern constellations, which he now knows as well as the stars he saw in Portsmouth. He looks at the moon and thinks of Anne looking at it too. At night, he knows that it's lunchtime at home, and thinks of his parents and sisters preparing for their meal. Rooke listens to the ocean and thinks that a drop of water could make the same journey that he did, from one side of the world to the other.
The moon is a way for Rooke to tie himself to his family at home, and his thoughts show again that distance doesn't mean he's not a part of that community. The ocean here becomes a metaphor for the greater human community; though people draw divisions, in actuality they're fluid and permeable.
Themes
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon