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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

04 January 2012

Captains Courageous

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling is the tale of one boy being whipped into shape.

Harvey Cheyne is the spoiled son of an American millionaire. His father owns railroads, among other things. Harvey spends his time with his mother traveling. Though the travel was meant to give Harvey a broader understanding of the US and the world, he has become an obnoxious fourteen year old with little to contribute but his allowance.

When Harvey and Mrs. Cheyne set sail for Europe, Harvey falls off of the boat. He is fished out with the cod and placed on a fishing boat, the We're Here. When he tells captain Disko Troop that his father is a millionaire, Troop thinks he is ether lying or mad from his dunk in the Atlantic. Harvey is told that they will not abandon the fishing season for the ramblings of a boy. He will join them for the season and will be taken to Gloucester when the boat is full of fish.

Harvey spends the next months learning to be a man. He works for the first time and learns skills. He holds his own on the ship and for the first time feels pride in himself and not in his father's money. And he is earning $10.50 per month (significantly less than is $100/week allowance).

Kipling has described life upon the sea in a late 1800s fishing boat as if he had fished himself. He knows the slang and shanties and all of the rigging of a sailing ship. Written in 1897, this small classic is worth a re-read.

Kipling, Rudyard. (2004). Captains Courageous. New York: Signet Classics.

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