'The pen is mightier than the sword.' Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1839


- Who/what would humans be without conflict?
- How does conflict shape who we are?
- Freedom, peace, justice, equality, love. What do these ideals
mean? In what ways can they be achieved?

Encountering conflict can be difficult. However, it is ultimately worthwhile. Bearing witness, acknowledging conflict, is how humanity can work to grow and evolve in a positive way. This is why your Yr 12 English study of the Context 'Encountering Conflict' is so exciting. You have the opportunity to go on a journey where you can consider the world from many different viewpoints and through many different mediums. You can inspire and be inspired, you can have your say, you can affect change in the world - locally, nationally and globally.

This blog is intended to be a portal that will transport you into a place where you can consider the Context in a way that allows you to share your thinking and ideas. It is designed to let you:

- learn about the set texts; The Secret River by Kate Grenville and The Rugmaker of Mazar-E-Sharif by Najaf Mazari and Robert Hamilton

- go beyond the set texts to develop your thoughts about the Context

- study language features that occur in the set texts

- practise different forms of writing in a forum where you can recieve feedback from teachers, experts and peers.

There are a number of areas for you to access and contribute to in this blog. They are:

- Conflict Concerns: is the blogging space on this home page for general discusssion about the context and set texts. Exploration and challenging discussion about 'Encountering Conflict' is the aim. Also, questions about the course and what you are meant to be doing can be shared here.

- Music Matters: a space to share and comment on music that is relevant to the Context. You can also discuss how the songs might relate to the set context in ideas, themes, values and language features.

- Text Tremors: discuss how written texts have moved and shaped your ideas in regards to the Context.

- Film Flogging: inspire others by sharing your thoughts on how films, documentaries and t.v. shows you have viewed encounter conflict in their narratives. Comment on parallels that may arise between films and the set texts.

- Picture Panic: share images that make you think about the context and the world you live in. Explain how the pictures you encounter represent the idea of 'encountering conflict' and how they impact on your view of life and how it should be lived.

- Prompt Response: respond to prompts that you have been given and that appear in this space to practise writing 'Creating and Presenting' responses. Upload them here for conferencing that will help you hone your skills to meet the criteria for this area of study to the best of your ability in SACs and the exam.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Exploring the Context - The Secret River and Beyond

I think one of the most predominant conflicts in the Secret River is the Internal Conflict within the characters’ own selves. The book told us that the whole Thornhill family used to steal things that are worth something so that they could buy food to eat. It told us that everyone was feeling guilty upon doing such shameful things but there was nothing they could do to help it. Also, after Thornhill married Sally, there was a time when they had to steal other peoples’ belongings such as eggs, chicken, and the lumber at Thornhill’s workplace. The book told us that they were battling with themselves, wether what they were doing were right or wrong, which I think was a very important part of the story.

Poverty can drive people to do things that they normally would not do like some of the characters in the Secret River. In Third world countries such as Burma, Sudan, Uzbekistan, (etc.), living in itself is a challenge for the people. Food is scarce and the government are not lending them a hand like what they do in a first world country. We’re lucky to be in Australia. If you don’t have a job, the government gives you money; if you can’t buy a house, you can always go to the banks and ask for a loan. But what about the people in third world countries? A family eating 3 meals a day would be considered extremely lucky. Even getting a house is already a dream come true for them. So it is not surprising to see that crimes such as stealing are very high in these regions of the world since the first priority is to live.

girl behind fence - Cambodiax009


By anonymous student

Encountering the Context

The culture conflict between the blacks and whites in the text shows Thornhill does try to communicate with the Aboriginals but the language barrier between them is too different. Thornhill’s ‘ownership’ of the land is in terms of his white background, but Smasher Sullivan and all the other neighbours take a completely racist approach. They see the blacks as thieves and animals, they will whip or kill the blacks to protect themselves. Blackwood has a different approach, he says, “live and let live”, take some land and give something in return.

By anonymous student

Encountering the Context - The Secret River and beyond

Cultural Conflict
- Racism to the aborigines

Smasher Sullivan being racist to the Aborigines throughout the book.

First, Racism is bad; it’s no good putting down people for the colour of their skin, what they believe in, or killing someone in a ‘race war’ because their grandmother’s grandfather was indigenous.

It’s like the war with the Taliban, the biggest terrorists in the world – The United States - invade their country trying to free the people of the Taliban, but the Taliban keep growing in numbers.

This could be because of religious beliefs or beliefs that America is out to take their oil considering they supply some of the worlds oil and that the Taliban are out to defend it, that is one possibility how the Taliban keep getting more numbers.

By Andrew

Exploring the Context - The Secret River and beyond

Class Conflict: William Thornhill and Dan Oldfield

Class conflict has dominated society since the days of the early Egyptians. It has always been the way that one individual has the power to rule over another. “The ladder of society” or “the rat race” are two common names for this pattern in history. Quite often the individual seen as superior has greater wealth or class than the individual and this immediately puts them in a position of power.In ‘the Secret River’ Thornhill comes from a poor background where he is constantly at the demand of the superior individual, from his days as a child to rowing the upper-class across the river Thames as an apprentice Waterman, Thornhill was forever working for the “better man”. So it is strange that years later in Australia when Thornhill, now a free man, gains power over and individual of his own. Dan Oldfield is a convict the Thornhill’s knew back home in England and they take him in as a servant. Thornhill, a man treated as a borderline slave his entirely life, remarkably describes his knew position as a whole new kind of pleasure, and happily abuses the new convict brutally. It’s a shock because Thornhill was a man with no power, and once he got some he abused it straight away.

A modern day scenario that mirrors Thornhill’s lustful power surge is the story of ex Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror in Iraq. He controlled the country and caused multiple issues in the country throughout his time as president. His journey from working class man to war destroying tyrant is a similar scenario, to that of William Thornhill and Dan Oldfield.Information on Hussein can be found at the following linkhttp://www.fact-index.com/s/sa/saddam_hussein.html

By Brad

Encountering Conflict - The Secret River and beyond

Internal conflict is something that a lot of people in society deal with everyday. It is highlighted in The Secret River through William Thornhill and his desire for more in life, the feeling of worthlessness and his dealing with the fact that he is poor. ‘He was always hungry…And always cold…He had eaten the bed bugs more than once’

Such a scene sounds like today’s third world countries, The economically underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, considered as an entity with common characteristics, such as poverty, high birth rates, and economic dependence on the advanced countries. I believe that in today’s society there is enough money in this world that we could solve the issue of third world countries that they shouldn’t be a problem anymore. It is quite sad that it still is a major issue.


By Megan

Exploring the Context - The Secret River and beyond

Internal Conflict.

Thornhill has had feelings of internal conflict all throughout the text ‘The Secret River’ and it confuses him about what he should do. This is described in the text when Thornhill and Sal plan to steal a chicken after stealing some eggs, Thornhill felt , ‘there was a great emptiness in him, which was the space where hope had been’.

This scene is reminiscent of every day life in Australia; take the article published in ‘The Age’ on April 12th, 2010 about a young man in his car with his son who crashed into houses after evading police. This man was 0.201 - more than four times the legal blood-alcohol limit and this man would have felt a sense of internal conflict after this crash. He would have wondered how he could have done to his son after his stupidity and recklessness. What he has done would have turned his life upside down; his son dead and he locked up in jail. This article shows that internal conflict happens every single day in Australian society and to Australian people.

By Brogen

Encountering the Context - The Secret River and beyond

In The Secret River the two main characters Sal and William Thornhill begin to grow apart because they don’t speak to each other about what is on their minds and how they feel about certain things. In the text this is shown in the comment, ‘Sal, knowing him so well, heard something in his tone but said nothing.’ Another time it can be seen is when Will comments to Sal, ‘we got no call to worry” when Will was clearly concerned.

Relationship trouble is not a new thing, it has been going on for years and is still present in today’s society. An example of this is the break up between Jessie James and Sandra Bullock due to Jessie James not being up front with her and cheating as said in the article on about.com.

By Jon

Encountering the Context - The Secret River and beyond

Physical Conflict
Physical Conflict occurs everyday in most corners of the world. Even as we speak the war on terror in the middle is east is one of the most drawn out battles of the modern era. This war has lasted for almost 9 years, due to attacks on America in 2001 by terrorist groups, and still today in 2010 does this war continue to take control of life in the middle east. In The Secret River physical conflict is quite apparent in different stages of the book. Many different examples of physical conflict occur between the characters such as “Fields were set on fire, huts were burned down, and spears were flung at men without their reaping-hooks”. Also “The attack on the Webs was one of many outrages and depredations that March of 1814”.

These events are much like those of the Vietnam War where many American soldiers burnt and raided the huts and villages of those native to Vietnam. They would burn these communities to the ground and treat the native as if they were something from the gutter, pouring various chemicals of pain and destruction towards the villages of North Vietnam and their people.

A fascinating article appeared in The Washington Post which contained comments and experiences of some of the Vietnamese affected still currently hold on America and their involvement in the war. It explains what some of the people who were affected as children; continue to feel pain and suffering due to the physical conflict in the war.


Also, view the story of Phan Thi Kim Phuc at this site http://www.flickr.com/photos/inter-island_helicopters/3171291163/

How will war impact on these childrens' futures?


By Nick

Encountering the Context - The Secret River and beyond

Class Conflict: The Secret River

333/365 The ladder of life is full of splinters...

Class conflict refers to the concept of underlying tensions or antagonisms which exist in society due to conflicting interests that arise from different social positions. Class conflict is thought to play a pivotal role in history of class societies (such as capitalism and feudalism) by Marxist who refer to its overt manifestations as class war, a struggle whose resolution in favor of the working class is viewed by them as inevitable under capitalism.

Class conflict occurs in ‘The Secret River’ by Kate Grenville. The conflict between William Thornhill and the higher class ‘gentry’ is shown as he is disrespected working on the job as a lighterman. In contrast to this, when William is establishing his family’s life in Australia he climbs up the ‘class ladder’ so to speak and has two slaves himself. He is now the higher class gentleman and shows them the same disrespect the gentry did to him back in his old life as a lighterman.

The typical example of class conflict described is class conflict within capitalism. This class conflict is seen to occur primarily between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and takes the form of conflict over hours of work, value of wages, cost of consumer goods, the culture at work, control over parliament or bureaucracy, and economic inequality. The particular implementation of government programs which may seem purely humanitarian, such as disaster relief, can actually be a form of class conflict. Apart from these day-to-day forms of class conflict, during periods of crisis or revolution class conflict takes on a violent nature and involves repression, assault, restriction of civil liberties, and murderous violence such as assassinations or death squads.

www.thecyberhood.net/documents/papers/hyra.pdf -

by anonymous student

Exploring the Context - The Secret River and beyond

William Thornhill encounters many types of conflicts throughout the text ‘The Secret River’. One type of conflict which Thornhill encounters is interpersonal conflict, which is still being encountered by people in society today.

Thornhill and his wife grew up in London, England, but were exiled to Australia after Thornhill tries to steal timber, and gets caught. ‘Give a little take a little, that’s the only way.’
Thornhill encounters interpersonal conflict when he and Sal set up home in Australia. Thornhill, pleased with the business opportunities, thinks he and his family may prosper in their new home, while Sal misses life back in London, and dreams of one day being able to move back home. Interpersonal conflict between the 2 grows, because of their different views on their new life.

An example of interpersonal conflict encountered in today’s society could be the conflict between Christine Nixon and the royal commission, on the black Saturday disaster.


by Steph