The Lieutenant

by

Kate Grenville

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The Lieutenant: Part 3, Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A week later, the Cadigal haven't yet visited Rooke again. Silk arrives, looking upset, and explains that Lennox has been complaining to Governor Gilbert that he (Lennox) has spent more than his fair share of time at Rose Hill, but another captain is too ill to take his place. Rooke feels as though he's missing something, and Silk finally spits out that he has been commanded to go and oversee Rose Hill. Rooke points out that it might be a way to get a promotion, and Silk unenthusiastically agrees.
Silk's disinterest in the possibility of promotion suggests that Rooke is correct about his intentions, and he does seem to care more about his narrative than moving up the ranks in the marines. This also begins to chip away at the sense of community Rooke noticed among his fellow marines during the Revolutionary War. Now, those same men are prioritizing themselves over the common goal.
Themes
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Silk turns the conversation to his narrative, and says that parts of it are truly "sparkling." He wonders what might be interesting out at Rose Hill, and mentions sarcastically that an uprising from the prisoners or an attack by natives would be fantastic. Rooke thinks that he should tell Silk that 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 that he hopes Silk can return to civilization soon.
Though the natives have made some violent overtures towards the settlers, they've been relatively quiet—which in turn makes Silk's suggestion that an attack would be a good thing seem as though Silk isn't just less interested in serving the marines, he's also less interested in preserving his own safety in the name of excitement. Again he seems detached from reality for the sake of his narrative.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Silk asks Rooke if he has heard that Lieutenant Gardiner is being sent to Norfolk Island with some prisoners to farm, as the soil there is more fertile. Rooke is shocked and tells himself that this is an ordinary assignment, not a punishment for Gardiner's dangerous words. Silk laments Gardiner's departure, as he still hasn't been able to convince Gardiner to speak to him about capturing the natives. He mentions that both Gardiner and Rooke have a knack for disappearing.
Notice that Silk feels entitled to his fellow soldiers' stories, just as he feels entitled to the native language. This is again indicative of his imperialistic mindset that insists he deserves things like this. It's this mindset that also makes his friendship very difficult for Rooke to stomach, which shows that the imperialistic mindset is in direct opposition to true friendship.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Rooke thinks that he has allowed himself to feel as though he's his own man, when in reality, he's at the mercy of Governor Gilbert and King George. As Silk leaves, Rooke realizes that he has decided to keep what happens at the observatory a secret. He wonders what the consequences will be, and understands that this happy time will someday end.
With the realization that like it or not, he's part of the English community in the colony, Rooke understands that breaking away from that community by keeping secrets isn't going to serve him in the long run. Further, his association with the colonizers will eventually cause him to come into conflict with the natives, and he will have to make a difficult choice.
Themes
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
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