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Henry Lawon

             Henry Lawson portrays the drover's wife with a lot of sympathy, but does seem to imply that the life is unnatural and destructive, even though she can cope with it - the Bush is "no place for a woman". The story itself is both well written and interesting, using the incident of the snake to suggest that the life of the drover's wife is a hard, lonely one, livened up from time to time by episodes which only serve to heighten our sense of the woman's courage and endurance. The woman, the drover's wife, has no name. She is a representative figure, one of the "gaunt and haggard women who live alone and work like men" - alone, that is, except for their children and the livestock they have to care for.
             The way this story is written is quite interesting. It looks natural, like a yarn being told about bush life without much artistic planning, but in fact it is carefully structured. The effect of casualness is achieved mainly through the tone of the narrative: the use of the present tense in the opening lines, and short sentences like "No undergrowth".
             The narrator himself is omniscient, able both to read the characters' minds and fill in the background for the reader. The point of view is often very close to that of the main character, though, and as she drifts off into thought or reflection sitting by the fire, the narrative goes with her thoughts. She keeps drifting off to remember incidents from the past, then suddenly coming to attention and looking after the fire. Small gaps in the text and lines like "It must be near one or two o'clock" or "it must be near morning now" mark the passing of time and the movement of her mind from the past back to the present.
             The cyclic pattern of the narrative gives a structural framework to the story in which very little actually happens. The killing of the snake finishes the story, but it is clear that it is just another episode in the life of the woman, and the end of the story itself creates a fine sense of ambiguity.

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