The Secret River

by

Kate Grenville

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Dick Character Analysis

Dick is Thornhill and Sal's second child, born at Cape Town during their voyage to New South Wales. As a boy he's dreamy and solemn, and Thornhill doesn't recognize himself at all in Dick. After the family moves to Thornhill Point, Dick regularly disappears to spend time playing with the native children. He learns to throw a spear and make fire, though Thornhill and Sal try to forbid him from wandering off after Bub tattles on him. After Thornhill participates in the massacre and begins constructing Cobham Hall, Dick stops speaking to his father and moves down the river to live with Thomas Blackwood. Thornhill realizes he's lost his son when he hears people speak about Dick as though he's Blackwood's son.

Dick Quotes in The Secret River

The The Secret River quotes below are all either spoken by Dick or refer to Dick. 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

Dick would be right, he thought, except that everyone knew the blacks did not plant things. They wandered about, taking food as it came under their hand...But, like children, they did not plant today so that they could eat tomorrow.
It was why they were called savages.

Related Characters: William Thornhill, Willie, Dick
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4: A Hundred Acres Quotes

He could hear the great machinery of London, the wheel of justice chewing up felons and spitting them out here, boatload after boatload, spreading out from the Government Wharf in Sydney, acre by acre, slowed but not stopped by rivers, mountains, swamps.

Page Number: 214
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

Dick Character Timeline in The Secret River

The timeline below shows where the character Dick appears in The Secret River. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Sydney
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...a year, Thornhill applies for and is granted his ticket of leave. When the baby, Dick, is able to feed himself, Sal becomes pregnant again. James is born in March of... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...England in a few years. At the sound of their parents’ raised voices, Willie and Dick wake up and watch the two argue. Thornhill is proud that each of his three... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Thornhill's family thrives: Bub is now three and looks as though he'll survive; Dick is introspective and solemn; and the new baby, Johnny, loves to tinker with things. Sal... (full context)
Part 3: A Clearing in the Forest
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Dick asks if the savages will try to eat them, and Thornhill assures him that he... (full context)
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Thornhill, Willie, and Dick struggle to erect a canvas tent and manage to do so just before nightfall. When... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
At sunrise, Thornhill, Willie, and Dick walk down to a flat, clear strip of land by the river with only weedy... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
...that moles or hogs must have dug up the dirt. Willie hears his father, but Dick says that savages planted the daisies while Willie tries to shush him. Thornhill thinks that... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Hoeing is difficult. Thornhill sweats in the full sun, Willie hoes madly, and Dick dreamily scratches at one spot of dirt for minutes at a time. By afternoon, they've... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Suddenly, Willie and Dick run down the hill with the corn seeds. They stop when they see the natives.... (full context)
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Within two weeks, the corn sprouts. Willie and Dick water the plants while Sal tethers Bub and Johnny in the yard to keep them... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
When Dick gets tired of holding Mary, Sal takes her and sends Dick to play. With the... (full context)
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...barely keeps the wilderness out: one morning, a black snake crawls out of Willie and Dick's mattress. They all watch it go silently, and then Sal tells Willie and Dick to... (full context)
Part 4: A Hundred Acres
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...Whisker Harry, and another is Long Bob. One of the younger men they call Black Dick. Sometimes the men watch Thornhill, Ned, and Dan work, but the women approach Sal often.... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Now that he's eight, Dick performs his chores in the morning and then disappears in the afternoons. Thornhill sometimes sees... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Thornhill approaches to watch, thinking that making fire without flint is not really possible. Dick is transfixed watching Long Bob. As Thornhill tries to pull Dick away, smoke begins to... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...says something in reply that makes the children laugh, and Thornhill makes himself join in. Dick looks uncertain. (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
That night, Sal tries to explain to Dick that he needs to act like a civilized person. Thornhill insists that Dick is old... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
The next day, Thornhill finds Dick trying to make fire like Long Jack showed him. Thornhill is angry for a moment,... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...Polly doesn't know her name yet. Ned remarks with disgust that they'll eat the lizard. Dick pipes up that lizard is good, but stops when Sal catches his eye. Dan remarks... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...before the heat returns. The burnt patch becomes green, which attracts kangaroos. Thornhill watches Black Dick hunt a kangaroo one day, and decides to try to shoot one himself. Thornhill has... (full context)
Part 5: Drawing a Line
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...the natives won't hurt them. Willie tells his father to show them the gun, but Dick gets up and says that the natives truly are just having a get-together. Thornhill shushes... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...a savage. He tries to throw the spear but it only skids on the ground. Dick picks up the spear and throws it easily 50 yards. Thornhill realizes that this isn't... (full context)
Part 6: The Secret River
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
...more dead bodies. He hears something groaning and follows the sound to a small boy Dick's age. (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
The next morning, Dick runs to Thornhill and says that the natives are filling bags with their corn. Thornhill... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...boy go, Dan spits in the dirt near Thornhill's boots. The boy can barely stand. Dick tells the boy to go and the boy finally stumbles through the corn and into... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Thornhill watches the massacre around him. He watches Dan club Black Dick over the head, and Ned shoots a woman carrying a child. Thornhill points his gun... (full context)
Part 6: Mr. Thornhill's Villa
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Dick moves into Blackwood's hut with him. Some on the river suggest that Mr. Thornhill sent... (full context)