MLA Citation “Blackwood And Dick In “The Secret River” Ri”. Anti Essays. 7 Mar. 2012 <http://www. antiessays. com/free-essays/100987. html> APA Citation Blackwood And Dick In “The Secret River” Ri. Anti Essays. Retrieved March 7, 2012, from the World Wide Web: http://www. antiessays. com/free-essays/100987. html Thomas Blackwood and Dick Thornhill are two minor characters in Kate Grenville’s novel, The Secret River, albeit very important characters in terms of significance.
They represent a notion of integration with the native people, and demonstrate Kate Grenville’s modern view on the issue. We have a lot to learn from both of the two characters, who eventually form a lasting relationship. Thomas Blackwood is an emancipist and an ex-Thames waterman. He sails up and down the Hawkesbury doing trade, and sees that an untroubled life along the local native Aborigines is possible. Blackwood is friendly with the Aborigines; his name, with the colour ‘black’, emphasises his strong relationship with them. Dick Thornhill is Will and Sal Thornhill’s second oldest son.
He regularly spends time with the Aboriginal people at Thornhill’s Point, learning skills from the adults such as how to throw a spear and how to start a fire with two sticks, as well as playing with the children. Blackwood is generally peaceful and placid, as is Dick who is often overshadowed by his father. Blackwood is tolerant of Thornhill but not of Sagitty or Smasher. At the peak of his suppressed anger towards Smasher’s treatment of the Aborigines, he eventually attacks Smasher. Blackwood says to Smasher, “By Christ Jesus, one of them Blacks is worth ten of a little brainless maggot like you. The phrase shows how people such as Smasher, who think the natives of a lower class than they, are in fact in Blackwood’s eyes worth less. Whilst Blackwood eventually releases his exasperation, Dick is never seen to be extremely angry. However, he shows his frustration with his parents for not being more willing to integrate when Will and Sal attempt to explain why the Aborigines are savages in their opinion. “Dick, for all his dreaminess, was a stubborn little thing. They don’t need no flint of nothing, like you do, he sulked. And no damned weeding the corn all day. This is one of the only instances in the narrative when Dick highlights his disdain with his parents’ self-centred views and explains why there is a lot to learn from the Aborigines. Dick shares a strong rapport and relationship with the natives. This rapport also carries other connotations: that if the settlers were more willing to make peace, and if there were to be less violence, the colonists could actually have learnt and benefited from the Aborigines’ knowledge. The communication difficulties could potentially have been overcome and the bloodshed avoided. “Dick did not move.
He’s showing us how you make fire, Da, he called back. No flint of nothing. Thornhill had heard about this business of making fire by rubbing two sticks together…he went over, prepared to enjoy this bit of tomfoolery. ” From this, we can learn how Thornhill is not willing to learn from the Aborigines’ connection with the land, while Dick is more than. Blackwood also has a relationship with an Aboriginal woman, as Dick connects with the Aboriginal children and elders. Blackwood and Dick’s relationships with the natives represent racial integration between the settlers and the Indigenous.
However, Blackwood’s relationship also sparks the massacre of the Aborigines at his place. This shows that even ‘peaceful’ settlers who intend no harm can become involved in ‘colonial invasion’ and therefore, contributing to racial violence. His mere presence as a member of the colonising settlers is also partially responsible for many Aboriginal deaths. Dick spends a lot of time with the Aborigines, doing so behind his parents’ backs. He accidentally reveals how much time he has spent with the natives. “Lizard is real good! Dick cried, but then his face closed down to take back the words.
Sal glanced at him but said nothing. ” Sal decides to suppress this notion of acceptance, and Dick, realising his mistake, takes his words back. Dick, integrating himself, inadvertently becomes one of the natives in his father’s eyes. “Thornhill had seen him there more than once, around on the other side of the point…Dick was stripped off as they were, to nothing but skin. His was white and theirs was black, but shining in the sun and glittering with river-water it was hard to tell the difference. He ran and called and laughed with them, and he could have been their pale cousin. This shows how the colour of his skin does not matter, he is still able to play with them, so much so Dick is almost related to them. Both Blackwood and Dick are condemned by society for their willingness to integrate with the Aborigines. Blackwood also removes himself from the society of the settlers where possible. He often chooses to spend more time on his own land, in many ways this is similar to the lifestyle of the Aboriginal people around him. When Blackwood does come to meet with the other settlers, it often ends in him being disapproving off the other settlers for their closed-minded views, and him sometimes being attacked.
After returning from playing with the Aboriginal children, Dick tries to convince his parents that there is plenty to learn. “Thornhill felt the rage inside him. He grabbed the boy by the arm and pulled him outside…” Thornhill’s actions show how Dick is treated unfairly for his racial tolerance. Another important notion of integration is when Blackwood attempts to speak and learn the Aboriginal dialect. Grenville describes how a shared understanding is possible with the absence of a shared language. Blackwood answered her, and at first Thornhill thought that he was blurring the words together and swallowing them in his usual way. It took him a moment to realise that Blackwood was speaking in her own tongue. ” There is no evidence in the book that Dick tried to resolve the language barrier, more that he understood the natives through their actions, and vice versa. At the end of the novel, although neither Dick or Blackwood is completely fulfilled, each of the men find solace in the friendship of one another. Both of their lives are enhanced by their appreciation and knowledge of the Aboriginal people and their culture.