Franklin wrote All That Swagger partly to appease her family, some of whom thought they were negatively depicted in My Brilliant Career. The novel begins in Ireland, where Franklin’s paternal grandfather, Joseph Franklin, was born. Daniel (Danny) Brian Robert M. Delacy, the protagonist of the first half of the novel, has much in common with Joseph Franklin. Danny has “swagger,” a certain amount of bravura, and he is a true pioneer pursuing new frontiers. He elopes with Johanna Cooley, whose Catholic parents do not approve of Protestant Danny, and takes her to Australia, where he acquires some property and gives it its Aboriginal name, Bewuck. Not content there, he pushes on to even lonelier mountain territory in Berrabinga, where his wife, without any of the trappings she enjoyed in Ireland, is miserable. When the house at Berrabinga burns and their eldest child is killed in the fire, Johanna has to cope in Danny’s absence, and the event sours her permanently on the Australian bush and her husband, whom she banishes to the guest room.
Although he put his ambitions ahead of his wife, fails to get a priest to administer the last rites to Johanna, and totally ignores his daughter, Della, when he takes his sons into partnership, Danny is, for the most part, sympathetically portrayed. Rather than battle the Aborigines for the land, he negotiates with them, avoiding conflict. His humanity also is displayed through his rescue and...
(The entire section is 519 words.)