The Lieutenant

by

Kate Grenville

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The Lieutenant: Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rooke sits in the boat and watches Governor Gilbert sitting in the front. Silk and another lieutenant, Willstead, sit behind the governor. Willstead is obviously and obnoxiously ambitious, and the governor regularly addresses Silk instead of Willstead. The governor's lumbering, massive shooter, named Brugden, sits behind Rooke. The boat rounds a corner and the party spots a group of natives sitting around a fire. The governor commands Gardiner, who's steering, to turn in so they can speak to the natives, but the natives get up and disappear into the forest by the time the boat gets close enough.
Comparing Willstead and Silk begins to reveal how obscuring truth can work in one's favor, or not: Willstead's obvious ambition makes him unlikeable. Silk is just as ambitious, but because he's better about downplaying that ambition, he's better liked and will presumably go further than Willstead. This drives home that there's a great deal of power in being able to control one's image through careful storytelling.
Themes
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Willstead offers to run after the natives, but Gilbert ignores him and commands Gardiner to continue onward. Finally, Gardiner steers the boat to shore in a river, and everyone disembarks. Gilbert tells Gardiner to have the boat ready to collect the party in three days, and shouts out the marching order. Gilbert tells the privates to march with "the gamekeeper" (referring to Brugden), and Rooke laughs before realizing that Gilbert was dead serious when he used the term. Rooke thinks that calling Brugden the gamekeeper recalls high English society, and that New South Wales is nothing like a gentleman's manicured estate. Furthermore, Brugden is nothing more than a prisoner with a gun.
Gilbert's choice of terminology shows that he's attempting to turn this ideal into reality through language. He can do this because of his status; Rooke cannot voice his disbelief without being disrespectful. In combination with with the previous passage, this continues to show that individuals can be in control of how others see them and how others see their goals by insisting that others acknowledge only one particular facet of of reality.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Rooke brings up the rear of the party to record the steps and direction of the march. The terrain is difficult, and they have to change direction often to avoid mud or thickets. When Gilbert calls a halt for the night, Rooke watches as a sergeant reluctantly gives Brugden a gun to hunt for dinner. When Brugden asks for more powder and bullets the sergeant tries to refuse, but Gilbert snaps that Brugden should have what he needs. Brugden smiles and walks away. When Gilbert notices Rooke watching, he explains that Brugden was an exceptional gamekeeper in England. Willstead asks what will happen if Brugden wanders off, and Gilbert snappily asks where Brugden could possibly go.
Willstead's question suggests that he thinks more emotionally about the Brugden situation than Gilbert does. Gilbert is well aware that Brugden has poor chances of surviving if he doesn't return; it simply doesn't make sense to even consider the possibility that Brugden would wander. This begins to develop similarities between Gilbert and Rooke (they're both inherently rational), though their goals are entirely different. Gilbert has bought into the military mindset entirely, while Rooke is still intent on figuring out who he is as an individual.
Themes
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Rooke returns to his records of the march and calculates that they marched four and five eighths miles. When he tells Silk, Silk is delighted. Silk tries to get Willstead to share in his delight, but Willstead is too engrossed in tending to his blisters. Rooke decides to walk along the stream, making a great show of using his compass. In reality, Rooke just wants to be able to look at the strange landscape. 
When Rooke strikes out alone to look at the forest, he shows again that he learns things better in solitude. In this way, this walk mirrors both his childhood spent reading and his decision to build the observatory far away from the settlement. He is an introverted person who gathers strength in being away from others.
Themes
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Brugden returns with parrots and an opossum. When Rooke rolls himself into his blanket after dinner, he thinks that there's no place he'd rather be. The next day, the party finds the river again, as well as a footpath. Gilbert is thrilled at the possibility of coming across natives. Rooke wonders how they might interact with the natives, and thinks that maybe more words and fewer trinkets would work better. He rehearses his dialogue in his head, but they don't find natives. They find an encampment, but it's empty. Gilbert irritably wonders where the natives are and why they hide.
Gilbert's irritation continues to demonstrate that he feels entitled to the natives' time and conversation. The possibility that the natives don't want to talk, or are possibly scared to, isn't even on Gilbert's radar; he thinks only of himself and his goals. Rooke shows that he's beginning to shift away from this line of thinking when he wonders if more language would work better. He thinks that more understanding, rather than more authority, would help.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
A bit later, the party finds an open, grassy clearing. Gilbert digs up a handful of dirt and asks Rooke to note this spot, as he believes the soil will be good for agriculture. That evening, Brugden boasts that he'll bring back better game. Rooke and the others hear a shot a short time later, and not long after that, Brugden bursts into the clearing with a black eye. He yells that the natives stoned him. Gilbert snaps at Brugden to explain what happened, and Rooke thinks that Brugden looks shifty as he tells Gilbert that he'd been hunting and then the natives started throwing stones unprovoked.
Rooke, and likely Gilbert as well, know full well that Brugden is lying about at least some parts of his story. This further erodes the others' trust in him, and creates an environment of fear. While this does heighten the sense of community among the soldiers, it also brings up the fact that one individual's lies or steps out of line can harm the entire community—as the British will support one of their own over the natives no matter what.
Themes
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Gilbert asks Brugden if he shot at the natives. Brugden again seems to be hiding the truth as he admits that he did shoot, but his life depended upon it and he doesn't know if he hit anyone. With quiet anger, Gilbert reminds Brugden that the wellbeing of the settlement depends on friendly relations with the natives. A sense of fear descends upon the party. A sergeant loads all the guns and lays them out, and a private stands guard. Rooke knows that something happened out there, and Brugden isn't telling. He also knows that if the natives attack, the muskets won't help at all.
Again, Brugden is certainly lying about what happened. This shows a situation in which one's storytelling isn't successful (though it's not successful because Brugden doesn't have the power to make it truth). Rooke understands that given the circumstances, the muskets are little more than symbols of power. They're hopeless to do anything but convey that in theory, the English are stronger—while in practice, these guns take about two minutes to reload, and will be relatively useless.
Themes
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
The night proves to be uneventful, and in the morning the party makes its way back to Gardiner and the boat. Gilbert praises Rooke as a "first-rate navigator." Gilbert tells Silk that the area they found was exactly what he's looking for, and it will become "the breadbasket of the colony."
Rooke's navigational prowess earns him favor with the governor, which will help him keep up the image of himself as being fully a part of the settlement. It situates him as an integral part of the community.
Themes
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon