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What We Can Expect of the American Boy

“Like many other unfortunate young people, Harvey had never in all his life received a direct order - never, at least, without long, and sometimes tearful, explanations of the advantages of obedience and the reasons for the request.”
— Rudyard Kipling

Harvey Cheyne, the son of one of the richest men in the world, is being taken to England for boarding school to cure him of his ways when he finds himself washed overboard. He is rescued by fishermen and has to learn to let go of his old ways to acclimate to life aboard a fishing schooner, working with working class men for his keep .

He is helped on the journey by the captain’s son and the captain who give him a chance to redeem himself despite his initial impression. Later, when they finally dock, Harvey is reunited with his family and he makes good on his reformation by attending Stanford and going on to lead his father’s business. His coming of age is complete.

The novel’s beauty is in its simplicity and beautiful characterization of a community most of us haven't interacted with. The vivid description of life on a fishing boat, the camaraderie between men facing the wrath of the high seas, and the journey from spoiled brat to prodigal son. That is what makes Captains Courageous such a great read.