The Lost Man
Jane Harper
Contributed by Greta Venegas
Chapter 8
Summary

After dinner, Simon helps Katy with the dishes, while Nathan heads down to the cool room to grab a beer and check the storeroom, making sure it was appropriately stocked. He reveals that everyone in the town orders food from the nearest city, Adelaide, to prepare themselves for emergencies like flooding, which can trap people in their homes. Nathan finds Cameron’s wallet and flicks through while making a call to the cool room contractor. He notices Cameron’s painting before heading to the lounge, where he sees Ilse unpegging bed sheets from the washing line. Once outside, Nathan engages with Ilse who immediately questions him about what the police thought had happened to Cameron.

At that moment, he flashes back to ten years earlier, revealing that he had been interested in Ilse before Cameron met her. They had met at a bar; and had a brief affair, which ended when Nathan was asked to stay away from the town. All his attempts to contact Ilse failed. Nathan was shocked to find Ilse at Cameron’s house a few years later.

Ilse agrees that Cameron had been under a lot of pressure recently, mainly due to issues related to running the farm — something that made him stressed and put him in a bad mood most of the time. Ilse heads back to the house as Nathan finishes unpegging the sheets from the washing line. Nathan later witnesses Bub urinating near his father’s grave while drinking beer.

Analysis

Aside from the dryness of the land and the scorching sun, the town also faces extreme flooding, which traps people in their homes for days before the water subsides. This explains the need to purchase months of food and supplies in preparation for the floods. Another indication that Cameron killed himself is seen when Ilse admits that Cameron had become stressed and in a bad mood lately. Harper uses flashbacks to show readers the connection that Nathan and Ilse had and where they met nine years ago (Harper 51-52). Bub’s action of urinating where his father was buried, and where Cameron was expected to be buried, suggests the possibility of unresolved issues between Bub and Cameron or perhaps hatred towards his father.

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