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Key moments from The Lieutenant
Key moments from ‘The Lieutenant’
- Daniel Rooke begins his life in Portsmouth, where he obtains a scholarship to the prestigious local school. Rooke’s introverted character is established, as well as his interest in mathematics and astronomy.
- At 15, Rooke joins the marines serving in the American War of Independence. Rooke develops a talent for navigating and cements his friendship with Talbot Silk when they witness the death of Private Truby.
- In Antigua, Rooke observes the hanging of an officer who failed to obey orders. Rooke becomes aware of the fatal consequences of failing to carry out a duty.
- After being injured and sent back to Portsmouth, Rooke finds good fortune, he received a reassignment to HMS Sirius on route to Australia. Rooke is able to rise above the confines of his poor social status.
- After the arrival of the First Fleet, Rooke is able to establish his observatory some distance from the settlement. Rooke enjoys his solitude and is able to concentrate on searching for the forthcoming comet.
- .Gardener visits Rooke and recounts his distress at luring and capturing two Aboriginal men. Rooke reflects on a man’s sense of duty, and this moment foreshadows his own conflict at the end of the novel.
- Rooke is visited by the Cadigal people, and he befriends young Tagaran. Rooke comes to cherish their visits, enjoying learning their language and the way that Tagaran helps him to abandon his self-consciousness.
- Rooke is called to duty to be present at the gruesome flogging of a foolhardy prisoner, caught thieving potato crops. Rooke watches the display with a new perspective, realising the justification for Warungin’s pleading and horror, and beginning for the first time to question the nature of duty and what it means to obey.
- Silk visits Rooke and chances upon his notebooks, misinterpreting Rooke’s relationship with Tagaran as sexual in nature. Rooke recognises the intimacy he has with Tagaran and how impulsive and reckless he has been in writing down his private thoughts verbatim.
- Gamekeeper Brugden is fatally pierced by a spear, and in retaliation, the governor orders a party of European men to find and kill six Aboriginal men. Rooke realises that the conflict and violence has escalated, but is ordered by Captain Silk to partake, not knowing the true details of the expedition.
- Rooke warns Warungin about the impending threat, and the Cadigal people vacate the surrounding area. Rooke begins to realise that his values are incompatible with his role as an officer and that his loyalties to Tagaran and her family conflict with his job.
- On the journey to capture the Aboriginal men, Rooke discovers that the bags brought by the company were there to bring back the six men’s heads. At the climax of the tale, Rooke realises that ultimately the Aboriginal people deserve respect and he cannot live with himself if he is a part of their demise.
- Rooke confronts the governor and announces that he regrets his part in the journey. Rooke’s confession pave the way for his future as he is discharged from the marines and sent back to Portsmouth, England.
- Fifty years later, Rooke lies dying and reflects on his life in Australia and his later work to help free Carribbean slaves. Rooke still thinks of Tagaran and what might have become of her, revealing how integral their relationship was to his life and later work.
Source : Information taken from SASC VCE handout The Lieutenant