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Book Review: Captain Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

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The novel Captain Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, is an amazing book for all ages.

At the beginning of the book Harvey Cheyne is a rich spoiled brat. Son of a multimillionaire (the story was originally published in 1897, so this would be much more money today) Harvey thinks he is entitled to whatever he wants. He bullies his mother, makes fun of his father, and spends his two hundred dollars a month on things like cigarettes. He’s not even an adult yet.

Well, on his way to a finishing school in Europe, he gets dizzy from the combination of rolling waves and his stoogie. He falls over the railing into the heaving sea. Luckily for him he is rescued… by a fishing boat. He is taken aboard and the sailors pump the water from his lungs and the cold from his veins. They ask who he his, and Harvey rambles on about his oh-so-rich father and about what he can do.

They think he is crazy. “You don’t remember hitting’ anything when you fell over, do you? Crack agin a stanchion, le’s say?.” He threatens, cajoles, bribes, but they don’t believe him, and thus don’t take him to the shore to be shipped home to his parents. He is signed on as part of the crew for ten and a half dollars a month. It’s a far cry from his privileged life as a heir to vast family fortune.

Sooner or later, Harvey adjusts. Horror of all horrors, he actually gets calluses on his hands. He becomes an excellent sailor and fisherman. His personality changes too. He is friendlier now and more trustworthy, instead of his earlier stuckup personage. Eventually, the schooner We’re Here makes it to shore and the sailors find he was telling the truth.”His folks has come, an’ dad hain’t caught on yet, an’ they’re pow-wowin’ in the cabin. She’s a daisy, an’ he’s all Harve claimed he was, by the looks of him.”

The story is excellently written and true to Kipling’s style he uses the vernacular native to the fisherman of Gloucester, Maine. It is easier to follow if you read aloud. But it wouldn’t be any good if it was proper English; the poor grammar makes the story what it is.

The story is an amazing spin on the proverbial sheep among wolves, prince and the pauper style. The ending though is amazing. Rare among books, it is not a cliff hanger and actually takes you into the future and gives you a glance of the main characters as adults.

This story shows the theme of friendship and illustrates the importance of appreciating all that you have. Otherwise, you might fall off a boat and realize that others don’t have the luxuries that you take so easily for granted. This book also illustrates the point of respecting your elders even if you don’t agree with. After a sharp blow to the head, Harvey ends up learning this the hard way.

To sum, Captain Courageous is a enjoyable book choice.

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The voice of the Tyrone Area High School
Book Review: Captain Courageous by Rudyard Kipling