Thea Astley's novel, A Kindness Cup, is a text that invites the reader into the life of the character Tom Dorahy. Dorahy, a character of immaculate intensity and audacity, has returned to his hometown after twenty years to remember old friends and acquaintances for "auld lang syne". For Dorahy, however, it is a time not for celebration but rather for acknowledgment. Acknowledgment that will slaughter the names of the affluent and admired. Acknowledgment that will force many to summon up the mistakes of the past and face up to wrong doings, finally allowing justice to prevail. Not all however share in Dorahy's line of thought. Many refuse to look back and remember that "night at Mandarana". So, as Dorahy ploughers through his journey, the reader begins to see a number of different themes unfold in the text. Firstly, the reader may witness the theme of strength and courage portrayed through the character of Tom Dorahy. We also are able to identify the theme of brutality and manipulation through the character of Freddie Buckmaster. Lastly, it is through the character of Charlie Lunt, that we may recognise the theme of letting go in the past and moving forward to the future. .
The theme of strength and courage plays an important role in the storyline. This theme is best expressed through the character of Tom Dorahy. Straight from the beginning of the text we see Dorahy's reluctance to return to his hometown. We see him recollecting memories that have cast a dark shadow upon his hometown. However, unable to "submit to this pull of fate" Dorahy returns to join in with the so called "celebrations" of the reunion. However, celebration is an event that is far from his agenda. For Dorahy, it is time for justice to prevail. It is time for mistakes to be identified and for people to be made aware of the brutalities that have taken place. So, determined to be acknowledged Dorahy begins his road to integrity.