The Lieutenant

by

Kate Grenville

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The Lieutenant: Part 4, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rather than seek out Warungin or Boinbar, Rooke walks towards the settlement and hopes he runs into one of the natives. He comes across Boneda, who proudly and excitedly 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 the boy bounds away. Rooke goes back to his hut, lights a fire, and waits.
Rooke's actions after telling Boneda demonstrate what he learned from the natives in terms of nonverbal communication: he's willing to wait to speak on Tagaran's terms instead of insisting that things happen on his personal timeline. This also continues to show that Cadigal culture is often more respectful than British culture.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Tagaran appears in the doorway. The two hesitantly sit at the table and after a moment of silence, Rooke asks Tagaran in English why the black man hurt the white man. In Cadigal, she replies that they're angry. When Rooke asks her why, she responds that they're angry because the white men have settled here. Rooke watches her rub her arm where the man from the Charlotte hurt her. Without looking at him, Tagaran says that the Cadigal are afraid.
This final conversation represents the final shift in Rooke's transformation, as well as the final shift in his relationship with Tagaran. They speak as equals about their respective cultures with the goal of understanding and, for Rooke, of helping.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
Rooke reminds Tagaran of when she asked him to show her how the musket worked. He asks her why she wanted to know, but she doesn't answer. Rooke asks her why the Cadigal are afraid, and she looks directly at him as she says that they're afraid of the guns. Rooke feels as though he's been shot. He says that Brugden will die, and Tagaran's unwillingness to look at him tells him that she already knew. Rooke says that they're going out to capture Carangaray. This catches Tagaran by surprise.
Now Rooke uses this mode of conversation to help the Cadigal and, by extension, the greater world community. By using language to (hopefully) avoid future violence, Rooke continues to separate himself from the British military's goals and its imperialist mindset. However, it's worth noting that he's also telling himself a questionably truthful story that he truly believes that this will fix everything.
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 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 that he's telling her this information. She confirms Rooke's information, and then Rooke admits that he will be a part of the party. He asks what's to become of his friendship with her, but he knows that the question is beyond her understanding of English.
When Rooke admits that he's a part of the party and warns Tagaran, he seeks to absolve himself of responsibility for the racist, violent intentions of the mission, as well as what might happen. When he sees that Tagaran understands the significance of this, it shows he's fully accepted that nonverbal communication is just as important as speech.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
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Tagaran goes to the fire and warms her hands. She returns to Rooke and gestures for his hands, and then warms his with hers. She says "putuwa," and he repeats it. Rooke understands that “putuwa” is the action of warming her own hands and then warming his. He thinks that describing the action in English takes many words, and the concept doesn't even translate, because in England people simply warm their hands and put them in their pockets. Rooke feels as though his entire life is being boiled down to the feeling of her hands.
Like the dual plural, putuwa shows Rooke that the Cadigal culture is potentially more caring and communal in its nature than his own society, as that sense of community is embedded in the language. With this, Rooke realizes that one can tell how a culture thinks about community by looking at how they talk about it.
Themes
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Tagaran tells Rooke she has to go. They look at each other, and Rooke thinks they both understand that this is the last time they'll see each other. He follows and waves to her when she reaches the top of the ridge. Rooke imagines following her to her camp, and the daydream is so vivid he's surprised when he realizes he hasn’t actually followed her. Rooke thinks that something ugly is coming, but thinks he'll never forget the trust she communicated when she taught him "putuwa."
Emotionally, Rooke feels as though he's becoming a part of the Cadigal culture now that he's realized how they think about community. His daydream, and the truth that it was just a daydream, suggests that his emotions are impossible to turn into reality, but "putuwa" shows him how he needs to think about the human community and his role in it.
Themes
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon