The Secret River

by

Kate Grenville

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Dan Oldfield Character Analysis

As a child in London, Dan plays with Thornhill and is a famous chestnut thief. As an adult he's sent to New South Wales several years after Thornhill, and Thornhill ends up taking him on as a convict servant. At that point, Thornhill insists that Dan call him Mr. Thornhill instead of William to assert his dominance. On the Hawkesbury, Dan shows that he's cruel and fearful of the natives. He pushes Thornhill to participate in the massacre and encourages Thornhill to torture the natives like Sagitty and Smasher do.

Dan Oldfield Quotes in The Secret River

The The Secret River quotes below are all either spoken by Dan Oldfield or refer to Dan Oldfield. 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:
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Canongate edition of The Secret River published in 2007.
Part 3: A Clearing in the Forest Quotes

It was an old pain returning to find that William Thornhill, felon, was waiting under the skin of William Thornhill, landowner.

Related Characters: William Thornhill, Dan Oldfield, Ned
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 5: Drawing a Line Quotes

He knew, as perhaps they did not, how pointless a thing it was. He could go through the rigmarole of loading it up and squinting along its barrel and firing. But after that, what?

Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Secret River LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Secret River PDF

Dan Oldfield Character Timeline in The Secret River

The timeline below shows where the character Dan Oldfield appears in The Secret River. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: London
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...around the city with his brothers, James and Rob, and his friends, William Warner and Dan Oldfield. Dan is an expert at stealing roasted chestnuts and is kind enough to share... (full context)
Part 3: A Clearing in the Forest
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...of Rob, and after he has chosen another man, the man excitedly introduces himself as Dan Oldfield, Thornhill's childhood friend. Dan happily cries that London sends its regards, but Thornhill mildly... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Thornhill realizes that, to men like the captain, he and Dan are one and the same, and he begins to understand that there's no future for... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
When Thornhill returns to the river with Dan and Ned, Sal insists that Dan call her Mrs. Thornhill. She uses fancy language she... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
At breakfast the next morning, Thornhill watches Dan eye the cliffs and surrounding forest. He waits until Dan looks at him to say... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
That night, Dan and Ned crawl into the lean-to, and Thornhill notices that Sal is smiling. He tells... (full context)
Part 4: A Hundred Acres
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
With Dan and Ned on Thornhill's Point, Thornhill feels better leaving to work on the river. The... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...of the younger men they call Black Dick. Sometimes the men watch Thornhill, Ned, and Dan work, but the women approach Sal often. One day, he watches as a large group... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
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Dan, Ned, and Thornhill watch all of this, entranced by the bare breasts of the younger... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
...time strolling around and finding food, while the Thornhills spend all day working. Ned and Dan scorn the natives and think of them as animals, and Sal halfheartedly suggests they put... (full context)
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...When Sal begins to tell them the layout of a street, Thornhill corrects her geography. Dan corrects Thornhill, and he realizes that London is truly just a story now. (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...lizard. Dick pipes up that lizard is good, but stops when Sal catches his eye. Dan remarks on the stupidity of burning land for a single lizard. (full context)
Part 5: Drawing a Line
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...voice. She and Thornhill sit by the fire and listen to the children, Ned, and Dan sleep, when they begin hearing clapping and chanting coming from the natives' camp. Thornhill tries... (full context)
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Ned and Dan come to the fire and insist that the natives are coming to kill them. The... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
When Thornhill returns to the hut, Sal has the children dressed. Thornhill tells Sal, Dan, and Ned that there are only a dozen natives, though nobody seems to believe him.... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...Sal stops engaging with the women, and Thornhill buys three more guns and teaches Ned, Dan, and Willie how to shoot. Ned is a natural with the gun, while Dan prefers... (full context)
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...a group of settlers at Thornhill's one night. Smasher, Sagitty, and Blackwood are there, and Dan and Ned look on. Loveday reads that if the natives trespass on farms, the owners... (full context)
Part 6: The Secret River
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...eyes and shoots at Jack. When he opens his eyes, Jack is gone. Thornhill hears Dan yelling and sees that Dan has ahold of a native boy. Dan and Ned suggest... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...for Thornhill to let the boy go and steps forward to let him free herself. Dan looks at Thornhill with a dead look and doesn't let the boy go until Thornhill... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...knows there's no escaping this life. He begins to try to talk to Sal, but Dan, breathless, interrupts them and says that the natives are burning Sagitty's place. Sal ignores Thornhill... (full context)
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Thornhill, Dan, and Ned float down towards Saggity's place. They see smoke and a smashed boat, but... (full context)
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
At the town of Windsor, Thornhill, Ned, and Dan get Sagitty to the hospital and then go to Spider's bar. They hear Sagitty's scream... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...wicked. Loveday says that they need to either fight or return to their old lives. Dan approaches Thornhill and says that if they get rid of the natives, Sal will agree... (full context)
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Thornhill watches the massacre around him. He watches Dan club Black Dick over the head, and Ned shoots a woman carrying a child. Thornhill... (full context)
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...watching. He looks at the dead bodies all around. Thornhill hears a baby cry, and Dan clubs it until it's quiet. Blackwood is still alive, but is motionless. Smasher refuses help... (full context)