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The Drover's Wife

This study guide will help you analyse the text “The Drover’s Wife” by Henry Lawson. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Drover’s Wife”
Author: Henry Lawson
Published in: “The Bulletin” (magazine)
Date of Publication: 1892
Genre: Short Story

Henry Lawson (1867-1922) was an Australian writer, mostly famous for his short stories and poetry.

Excerpt 

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Social setting

The social setting of “The Drover's Wife” explores traditional gender roles.

The drover’s wife takes on the traditional gender role of wife and mother. While the drover is away with the sheep, the drover’s wife is expected to remain at home with the children as their main caretaker. The loneliness and the emptiness of the environment affect both of them, but only the husband can afford “to break away and travel as far as trains can go, and sail as far as ship can sail – and farther”. The drover’s wife cannot afford to give in to the same impulse, because she has to look after the children. Even when the husband returns, he does not seem to contribute much to taking care of the children. The drover’s wife continues to do so, and she must also feed her husband.

However, the drover’s wife also challenges traditional gender roles. She shoots at a bullock with the bullets she herself makes and eventually kills him. Dressed in an old pair of her husband’s trousers, she beats out the flames in her attempt to contain a bush-fire. This suggests that she does not feel constrained by the limitations imposed by society on her as a woman and does whatever is necessary for her family’s survival. 

 

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The Drover's Wife

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