The Drover’s Wife Assignment

489 words - 2 pages

Henry Lawson’s short story, The Drover’s Wife, tells of the hardships regularly endured by the wife and mother of “four ragged, dried-up looking-children” during the one of the routine but protracted absences of her husband, a herder of sheep.  Hers is a dismal existence.  She and her husband and children live in a shack in the vast, empty expanse of the Australian outback.  Lawson’s descriptions of that shack leave no question in the reader’s mind but that the drover and his family are desperately poor.  References to “cracks in the slabs” that comprise the shack’s walls and, when applicable, the floors (“the kitchen has no floor – or, rather, an earthen one”) reinforce the impression of a family of little means.  The Drover’s Wife also leaves no doubt that this is a woman accustomed to these hardships, but for whom the emotional toll of this existence may reach its limits someday.  This existence includes minimal interaction with other human beings save for the occasional visit of a local bushman and the once-a-month visit of her brother-in-law.  Protection from potential criminals is limited to the family dog and the broom stick she also uses to protect the chickens from eagles.  When a snake crawls under the floorboards, she must protect the children while preserving her sanity.  The setting for Lawson’s story is accentuated with telling details such as the following:
“She is not a coward, but recent events have shaken her nerves.  A little son of...

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