The Secret River

by

Kate Grenville

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Smasher is one of the first men that Thornhill meets on the Hawkesbury River. He's a small, mean man who burns oysters to make lime and breeds dogs that he trains to attack only Aborigines. He views the natives as little more than animals to be exterminated, and hunts them for sport. He often takes body parts from the native people he kills and carries them around as trophies. Smasher despises Thornhill and Blackwood for attempting to coexist peacefully with the natives. He keeps a black woman chained up as a sex slave, and offers to let other men on the river use her as well. He loves telling stories of the trouble natives cause for white settlers, though he embellishes the stories to make them even more gruesome. Smasher is responsible for rallying the men to go to Blackwood's place and massacre a group of natives. In that battle, Whisker Harry spears Smasher, and Smasher dies as a result.

Smasher Quotes in The Secret River

The The Secret River quotes below are all either spoken by Smasher or refer to Smasher. 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 5: Drawing a Line Quotes

Thinking the thought, saying the words, would make him the same as Smasher, as if Smasher's mind had got into his when he saw the woman in the hut and felt that instant of temptation. He had done nothing to help her. Now the evil of it was part of him.

Related Characters: William Thornhill, Smasher
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 6: The Secret River Quotes

"They got no rights to any of this place. No more than a sparrow." He heard the echo of Smasher's phrases in his own words. They sat there smiling and plausible.

Related Characters: William Thornhill, Sal Thornhill, Smasher
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

He was reminded of what he had not thought of for years, the yard at Newgate, the men rehearsing their stories so often that they took on the substance of fact.

Related Characters: William Thornhill, Smasher, Sagitty
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Secret River LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Secret River PDF

Smasher Character Timeline in The Secret River

The timeline below shows where the character Smasher appears in The Secret River. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Sydney
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
...the winding river until they reach a bay. Blackwood calls out for a man called Smasher Sullivan, and explains to Thornhill that Smasher burns oyster shells for lime. Thornhill squints at... (full context)
Part 3: A Clearing in the Forest
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On their fourth week on the Hawkesbury, Smasher Sullivan arrives with a housewarming gift of rat poison, a keg of lime, and oranges... (full context)
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Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...of holding Mary, Sal takes her and sends Dick to play. With the children gone, Smasher begins talking about the natives and regales them with tales of their viciousness. Sal becomes... (full context)
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Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...night, when the lamp goes out, Sal forces herself to laugh and asks Thornhill if Smasher is just exaggerating. Thornhill insists that he surely is, but thinks about the hands and... (full context)
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Thornhill encourages Smasher to tell others on the river that his family enjoys company, so one Sunday, several... (full context)
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Sagitty and Smasher exchange knowing looks as they talk about the natives. Thornhill tries to change the subject,... (full context)
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Smasher notices Blackwood coming up the river. Smasher and Sagitty exchange a hard glance as Blackwood... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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Smasher says loudly that the natives stole from him the night before. As though he didn't... (full context)
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Smasher yells that the natives are dishonest thieves, and Blackwood insults Smasher's own honesty. Blackwood turns... (full context)
Part 4: A Hundred Acres
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
...the natives, Thornhill is less anxious leaving Sal and the children. He trades regularly with Smasher, as his lime is in high demand in Sydney. Thornhill hates going to Smasher's and... (full context)
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
The man is holding an oyster and when he has Thornhill and Smasher's attention, he opens the shell with one hand and eats the oyster. He speaks slowly... (full context)
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Smasher begins yelling at Thornhill. He yells that he knows that he's been friendly with the... (full context)
Part 5: Drawing a Line
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In March, Thornhill decides to buy dogs from Smasher. When Thornhill approaches Smasher, Smasher tries to draw out the transaction and gloat, but finally... (full context)
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Smasher whips the woman and forces her outside. Her skin is ashy and has red sores... (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
...next several weeks, Thornhill trades up and down the river, though he stops trading with Smasher. When Sal talks about going back to London he agrees with her, but he privately... (full context)
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Smasher is livid. Mrs. Herring says that the natives can be quite charming and recounts pulling... (full context)
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Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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Loveday angrily shouts that the natives are destitute, and Smasher continues the tirade. Smasher mimes shooting a gun and shouts that the natives understand that.... (full context)
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...the Sydney Gazette, which Loveday reads to 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... (full context)
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Sagitty suggests poisoning the natives, and Smasher pulls something from his pocket and says he doesn't need the Governor's permission to use... (full context)
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Blackwood rushes at Smasher and shoves Smasher's head into the table. He punches Smasher several times before the others,... (full context)
Social Order, Hierarchy, and Class Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
Home and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...He assures Sal that the natives won't hurt them, and Sal says she doesn't want Smasher around anymore. Thornhill realizes Sal is giving in, but he knows that trouble is coming... (full context)
Part 6: The Secret River
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...he's dead. Over the course of the afternoon, men arrive to hear the story. When Smasher arrives, he commandeers the story and embellishes it. Thornhill silently drinks and remembers Newgate Prison,... (full context)
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...to go get the natives before the natives get them. Thornhill imagines being speared as Smasher says that the natives are camping at Blackwood's place. He continues that if they leave... (full context)
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Smasher crafts a well thought-out plan. The Hope picks up men along the way and about... (full context)
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At dawn, Smasher whispers to everyone to shoot the men first, then the women. The men wade to... (full context)
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...shout and sees Blackwood coming out of his hut with his own gun aimed at Smasher. Smasher flicks his whip at Blackwood and Blackwood reels backwards holding his eyes. Thornhill feels... (full context)
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Language, Literacy, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...trying to pull the trigger, but his finger won't move. He watches the spear pierce Smasher's chest. Smasher walks to Thornhill holding the spear and tries to speak. Whisker Harry makes... (full context)
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...cry, and Dan clubs it until it's quiet. Blackwood is still alive, but is motionless. Smasher refuses help until he dies, leaning on the spear. Everything is silent. (full context)
Part 6: Mr. Thornhill's Villa
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In the following ten years, the river itself doesn't change. New men move to Smasher and Spider's places, and Thornhill buys Sagitty's place and 100 acres that includes Darkey Creek.... (full context)