The Lieutenant

by

Kate Grenville

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Guns Symbol Icon

Guns are a symbol of power and destruction in The Lieutenant. Although Rooke finds guns to be satisfying examples of physics at work, he soon learns what guns can do to human bodies. The violence he sees in his first battle (in the American Revolutionary War) is horrific, and follows him for the rest of his life—though rather than disengage from the military, Rooke simply tries to never put himself in situations where he might have to use his gun. Rooke in turn applies this manner of thinking to his involvement in the military as a whole. By considering both the military and guns as simple machines—potentially harmless if handled right—Rooke ignores his own complicity in the violence that the military (and its guns) promotes. In this way, guns represent Rooke's uneasy relationship with violence, and his own conflicted feelings about his involvement in the military.

Guns Quotes in The Lieutenant

The The Lieutenant quotes below all refer to the symbol of Guns. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove edition of The Lieutenant published in 2008.
Part 1, Chapter 3 Quotes

The firing, the reloading, the ramming, the priming, the firing again: all that was familiar from having been practiced so often. The theory of it was tidy: men firing and then calmly dropping to one knee to reload. What was happening on Resolution bore no resemblance to that.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 5 Quotes

Gamekeeper! The word suggested the society that Lancelot Percival James had boasted of at the Academy: pheasants and deer in a park artfully planted to enhance the prospect, cheerful peasantry tipping their caps to the squires riding by.

But New South Wales was no gentleman's estate...and the gamekeeper was a criminal who had been given a gun.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 8 Quotes

They all knew what he had turned his face away from: like it or not, he was Berewalgal. He wore the red coat. He carried the musket when he was told to. He stood by while a man was flogged. He would not confront a white man who had beaten his friends.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 9 Quotes

But to shoot a piece of metal out of it that could penetrate a shield or a human body and expose the shambles within: that was of another order of experience. Another language. What it said was, I can kill you.

He did not want her to learn that language. Certainly not from him.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4, Chapter 4 Quotes

It was the simplest thing in the world. If an action was wrong, it did not matter whether it succeeded or not, or how many clever steps you took to make sure it failed. If you were part of such an act, you were part of its wrong. You did not have to take up the hatchet or even to walk along with the expedition.

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Lieutenant PDF

Guns Symbol Timeline in The Lieutenant

The timeline below shows where the symbol Guns appears in The Lieutenant. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 2
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...the American colonies, and is assured that the colonists are barefoot, wield sticks instead of guns, and will surely lose the war soon. (full context)
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Rooke receives his uniform and learns how to load his musket. He thinks the musket is satisfyingly logical in the way it works. Soon, he becomes... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...and the trajectory of one's bullets. When the fighting starts, Rooke remembers practicing reloading his gun, but thinks that battle is entirely different from such practice. The deck becomes a confused... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
...takes the man's shield and sticks it into the sand, steps back, and fires his pistol through the shield. The natives jump back and as the smoke clears they see that... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
...the Charlotte, who looks unhealthy. When Major Wyatt gives the signal, the marines fire their guns to salute and stand upright. Rooke thinks he'd be happy if it was the last... (full context)
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...Captain Lennox, a thin man, steps into the crowd and pokes the butt of his musket into a few people. The crowd immediately quiets. Seeing this, Rooke begins to plan how... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
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 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... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...like a gentleman's manicured estate. Furthermore, Brugden is nothing more than a prisoner with a gun. (full context)
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 8
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
...indicates that it's for looking at the stars. Rooke can tell she's purposefully ignoring the musket. Suddenly, the girls are off. They yell goodbye from the top of the rocks. (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 9
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...a sense of dread in his heart. Tagaran enters the hut and picks up Rooke's musket. Rooke tries to stop her, but she picks it up and pretends to sight and... (full context)
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Rooke takes the gun from Tagaran, but she picks it back up and, with gestures, asks how it works.... (full context)
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Somehow, Tagaran knows there's more. Rooke shows her how the gun creates a spark, but Tagaran insists on seeing the powder. Rooke carefully shakes some into... (full context)
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
...He doesn't want her to learn that from him. Tagaran pouts and grabs at the gun. In English, he begs her to stop. He puts the gun behind him, grabs her... (full context)
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
...force, and doesn't understand exactly what happened. He thinks that he should've just fired the gun. Tagaran turns away, and Rooke calls after her to come tomorrow. Without looking at him... (full context)
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...sits on his bed and wonders why Tagaran wanted to know how to fire a gun. He wonders if she'd been chosen to learn English, the culture of the Berewalgal, and... (full context)
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
...for Tagaran's company. He thinks that he was foolish to not show Tagaran how the gun worked, and should have fired it and let her learn. (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 1
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...Botany Bay when they saw armed natives creeping towards them. Brugden had put down his musket and spoken to the natives in Cadigal, but one of the natives jumped without warning... (full context)
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Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Lennox shouts that the natives only understand guns, and a few deaths would end this problem outright. Major Wyatt ignores this, and Silk... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 2
Language, Communication, and Friendship Theme Icon
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Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality 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... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 3
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...After a moment, Silk commands the men to fire at the natives. Rooke loads his musket slowly and clumsily, but he sees that the other soldiers are eager to shoot. By... (full context)
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Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
Storytelling and Truth Theme Icon
...tells Rooke and Willstead not to look. Willstead is confused and begins to prepare his gun, but Silk snaps that they must continue as though they never saw the native. Willstead... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 4
Violence and Rationality Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Communality Theme Icon
Imperialism, Racism, and Morality Theme Icon
...marines. That man knows how to listen and feel, and has nothing to do with muskets and hatchets. Rooke realizes that by remaining with the expedition, he is rejecting the man... (full context)