• a person who drives cattle or sheep.
• moves cattle into new lands and out of markets
• walk the vast herds across, or up and down the continent
• maybe months on the road
• mode of transportation: motorbikes and horses
Note: Droving is carried out along well-established stock routes on which camps, watering places and grass for grazing are available. Cattle are often driven for over 3000km.
Australia, late 19th century,
Hot, dry season.
Location: bush, two-roomed house
Theme: Women vs. Nature
- the struggle of a lone woman against what nature has thrown at her.
1. Prelude – a bushwoman with her 4 children and a dog living in a wooden house while her husband is away.
2. Appearance of the snake.
3. Disappearance of the snake into the cracks in the floor.
4. Thunderstorm and darkness appears, and she takes the children inside. She stayed up the night to wait for the snake to reappear.
5. Reappearance of the snake as dawn approaches.
6. The dog captures the snake.
7. The bushwoman kills the snake.
The drover’s wife
- “gaunt and sun-browned”, due to her hard life in the bush.
- Brave, “not a coward” as she has to take care of her 4 children alone for months when her husband is out droving.
- But lately her nerves had been shattered because her nephew died of a snake bite.
- Her circumstances make her resilient, self-reliant, hardy and patient.
Alligator, the snake dog
- the name of their Mongrel dog.
- “big, black, yellow eyed dog-of-all breeds”
- “shows numerous old wounds where the hair will not grow” – the scars he got when fighting with snakes.
- “big, heavy dog but quick as terrier”
- “not a very beautiful dog to look at”
- he is a snake dog and ever ready to kill snakes – hates snakes.
- he hates other dogs except kangaroo-dog.
- has a dislike for the people connected to the family but sometimes make friends with strangers.
- he is afraid of nothing.
Tommy, the eldest boy
- “ragged, dried-up looking children”, just like the environment.
- he is active, brave, protective and loves his mother for he understands her sufferings.
“…black brute, five feet long…”
It represents evil and a threat to the family
This is a tree that can survive in the harsh environment just like the woman.
She-oak is hard timber tree and makes good fuel. In terms of texture and colour it is inferior to the he-oak. The use of the feminine gender indicates the prejudice against women at that time.
its wide uncultivated expanse represents lifeless solitude but it provides a certain freedom. It is a dumb witness to all that is happening to her.
An alligator is a dangerous animal to other animals and human. This name is given to their pet dog. It represents a “talisman” for the family against dangers.
Note: All symbolisms are associated with nature: all symbols are part of the Australian environment that has adapted to the harsh and dry climate.
Language and style
The language is simple and casual as Henry Lawson represents the common man. The story is written in the present tense to hint that the drover’s wife is not going to be relieved of her sufferings and hardships. They are a continuous cycle in her life. A name is not given to her too, to suggest that she has no standing in the society and she represents all bushwomen.