The thesis examines Peter Carey as a nationalist writer, arguing that he is a writer whose characters, society and history reflect and recall the 1890s 'Australian tradition.' Despite the post-modern, post-colonial and fabulist features contained within his novels, Carey reflects the bushman ethos in his portrayal of Australian characters. True Australians are those who possess bush values. Certain elements in his fiction assist this theme, such as the manipulated use of Australian history, or the lack of attention to pluralism in his writing.
Shields examines those recurring traits, interpreting Carey as an Australian Battler's Prince, a man who promotes egalitarianism and mateship while belittling and devaluing a society of colonizing/ neo-colonizing past and present 'squattocracies.' He further argues that it is Carey's commitment to this 'true Australia' that determines the ethical structure of his work: in particular, that characters who offend the egalitarian values of 'true Australia' are more likely to be punished than characters who, whatever their crimes, exhibit 'Australian' virtues. Finally, the thesis questions Carey the nationalist in the context of the ethics of storytelling.