Charles brings Liam some bread but only agrees to bring boots if Liam agrees to help him finish the fence. Liam tells Charles the story of how he ended up as a convict and of his dreams for the future.
Convicts transported to the colonies of Australia experienced many hardships, including inadequate clothing. Shortages in the supply of penal uniforms made it hard for governors of New South Wales to regulate convict dress and as a result it was often hard to distinguish convicts from free working settlers. Socks were in such short supply that convicts - and soldiers - devised 'toe-rags' to ease the discomfort of state-issued shoes made without distinguishing between the right or left foot. No wonder the escaped convict Liam is so keen to get a pair of boots from Charles!
Ask students to research the provisions supplied to convicts. They could research using the web or books from the library. As a starting point, refer to the websites below:
As a class, ask students to list the good and bad aspects of life for a transported convict in Australia.
Ask students to work in small groups and undertake a web quest. A web quest is where you search for images and descriptions of articles of clothing, noting the URL source of the image. Ask students to consider why each item of clothing was issued to convicts, and why it was designed to appear as it did. As a starting point, refer to the websites below:
Subtheme(s): Character,Relationships,Social order and education
In this clip, the escaped convict, Liam, dreams of a life farming land beyond the Blue Mountains. The fate of convicts, after they had served their term or been pardoned, was a controversial issue in the early days of settlement. Such convicts were known as 'emancipists' and not all members of the colony agreed on whether this group of ex-convicts should be allowed to hold land, or indeed whether they should be readmitted into society. Some influential landholders and military officers, known as the 'exclusives', thought that emancipated convicts were a disruptive element with no place in polite society. Others, including Governor Macquarie, believed that the emancipists could be rehabilitated and had an important role to play in the future prosperity of the colony.
As a class, have students view the clip 'The emancipists and opposition debate' from the website listed below and take notes so they are ready for discussion about the two sides of the issue.
Have students conduct further research into the issue at the school or local library, or online. They should write notes to assist with their own points within the debate.
In small groups, ask students to discuss and explore the issue of whether the emancipists should have been rehabilitated.
The class should select six speakers, three for each side of the debate. Divide the class into six groups where each group is attached to a speaker. The group researches elements of the argument for their speaker. Each speaker presents on a different point of the argument - for or against. Each speaker can present their argument in whatever means they wish, such as speech, PowerPoint, video, audio, or poster.
Student Activity Sheet H20.4: The emancipist debate
The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:
learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.
Introduce to the class the concept of 'character development', that is, how a character is established through means of physical description, action, dialogue, interaction with other characters and background information.
As a class, watch the previous clip, Fencing, and ask students to focus on the information they find out about the character of Liam. Ask students the following questions:
How is Liam dressed?
What has happened to his feet?
What two things did he ask Charles to bring to him?
Where was he hiding?
Watch the clip, The convict, and draw students' attention to how the character of Liam is further developed. Ask students the following questions:
Why is Liam a convict? What happened to him?
Do you feel it is fair that he was convicted of his crime? Why?
Do you believe him? Why/why not?
What is his life's ambition?
Ask students to create a 'Wanted' poster for Liam. Students can use the information they have gleaned from the clips to ensure they include information regarding the escaped convict's appearance, gender, age, height, accent and past. They should also consider the reward offered. This reward should reflect whether they feel Liam is a victim or a thief.
Ask students to write a newspaper report on an escaped convict. It can be based on Liam's story or another convict from their research on Australian history, or alternatively an imaginary convict. In the newspaper report, students must address such details as 'who, what, where, when, why and how', and include a headline, illustration with a caption, by-line (author's name), along with the name of the newspaper and date.
Student Activity Sheet E20.3: Establishing character
Character,Relationships,Social order and education
As a class, discuss the development of the relationship between Charles and Liam. Ask students to identify the similarities and differences between the two characters. Students could develop a character profile for each character. Ask students to consider why Charles agreed to help Liam. Ask them to also discuss what penalty could have been enforced, in these times, if both Liam and Charles were caught by the soldiers.
Draw students' attention to the scene in which Liam helps Charles build the fence. Focus on how the filmmakers visually reinforce the development of Charles' and Liam's friendship. Ask students to complete Student Activity Sheet E20.4 Relationships.
Watch the episode in its entirety and ask students to comment on Charles' voice-over at the end. As a class, discuss how both characters have helped each other.
Ask students to imagine that they are Liam and that two years have passed since he escaped and left the farm (disguised as 'Lillian'). Have students write a letter to Charles in which they express Liam's gratitude for his assistance and inform Charles of his life since they parted company. Students should focus on the friendship that was formed and their shared dream of becoming their 'own man.'
Explore the characters of John Owen as different from Charles Owen. As an alternate response, imagine that Liam asked John Owen to help him instead of Charles. How would the story unfold if this had happened? Ask students to rewrite the episode from the point of view of John assisting the convict.