The Lieutenant

by

Kate Grenville

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The Lieutenant: Part 2, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The following Sunday, Governor Gilbert joins the officers for dinner again. He addresses them and describes the land found on the expedition, and says it will be called Rose Hill. Rooke privately thinks the name is ridiculous, as Gilbert says that Captain Lennox will establish a second settlement there and begin cultivating crops. Rooke thinks that the governor might be delusional, but realizes that his pay depends on being optimistic.
As when Gilbert first called Brugden a gamekeeper, Rooke recognizes that naming things as though they're still in England is one way for Gilbert to feel in control of what happens and influence what becomes truth. Like Silk, Gilbert is also paid to do this. This introduces the idea that messing with the truth can be a valuable business.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Gilbert makes a joke, and when the officers quiet he announces that two more prisoners will join Brugden as gamekeepers. Rooke thinks that they'll soon decimate the animal population in the surrounding woods. Gilbert continues, saying that the natives' silence will soon be rectified. Rooke realizes that the settlement's presence is ambiguous and possibly dangerous if they can't talk to the natives about it, and thinks that even war would communicate better than silence.
Gilbert's mention of "rectifying" the natives' silence positions their silence as a problem to be solved. It dehumanizes the natives and insists that there's no valid reason why they wouldn't speak, thereby minimizing whatever the natives' actual reasons are for not speaking. Again though, Rooke recognizes that violence can communicate through the language barrier. It's one way to “fix” the situation.
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
Related Quotes
One day, as Rooke records his readings in his ledger, he looks up to see Gardiner coming up the path. Gardiner seems preoccupied, but finally starts talking uneasily about something that "was not well done." Rooke is confused, and Gardiner explains that Gilbert asked him to seize two natives by force so they can learn the language. He describes the capture and how the two men cried to their families on the shore. Gardiner finally says that they call the natives savages, but their feelings are just the same as anyone else's.
Gardiner's insistence that the natives are people worthy of being treated as such turns him into an even more sympathetic figure. The purpose for capturing the natives again shows that the settlers feel entitled to the natives’ language, and even feel entitled to take the knowledge of language against the will of the natives themselves. Taken together, this reinforces that the British mindset in general is one that dehumanizes anyone it considers "other."
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Gardiner shakily stands, and then comes back to the table to pour himself another drink. He continues, saying that the natives are now behind the governor's house in shackles. Rooke tries to comfort Gardiner by saying he did his duty in the kindest way, but Gardiner won't be comforted. He says the governor is saying the natives were "brought in," but the truth of the matter is that the natives were violently kidnapped against their will, and nobody will tell the truth about it. Finally, Gardiner shamefully admits it was the most unpleasant order he has ever followed.
Gardiner's insistence on the truth attacks both the governor specifically and the military system at large. Though the governor is absolutely manipulating the story, this once again shows that his power allows him to get away with this sort of thing. Should it come out that Gardiner spoke like this, he'll surely be swiftly punished. These lies, then, are shown to be necessary for the military to continue as it is.
Themes
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
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Rooke wonders if he has ever received an order that would shame him, but he can't think of any. Gardiner shouts that he wishes he hadn't obeyed, and Rooke realizes the danger of those words and tries to quiet Gardiner. Rooke remembers that the lieutenant who was hung in Antigua had only spoken about mutiny, and begins to remind Gardiner of their duty as soldiers. With difficulty, Gardiner smiles and agrees with Rooke. Rooke wonders what he would've done in Gardiner's position.
Though Rooke fears for Gardiner's safety, he also fears for his own—listening and bearing witness to Gardiner's guilt makes Rooke just as guilty. As Rooke begins to question what he would've done, it continues to move him further away from the community created by the military, as the military functions by punishing those who ask questions like this.
Themes
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Related Quotes