Captains Courageous

by Rudyard Kipling

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In Captains Courageous how does Harvey change from the beginning to the end?

Harvey begins the story as a spoiled, selfish, and arrogant boy. By the end of the book he realizes that he must work hard to gain money and food. He changes throughout the story but never loses his love for fishing.

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Fifteen year-old Harvey Cheyne is the protagonist and central character of Rudyard Kipling's 1897 novel Captains Courageous. At the beginning of the story he is marooned in Newfoundland, and is eventually discovered by the crew of a fishing vessel who take him aboard. During the course of the fishing season, Harvey must earn his keep by assisting with the ship's operations, a far cry from the privileged life he formerly knew.

At the beginning of the story, Harvey—the son of a wealthy industrialist—is spoiled, selfish, and arrogant.

As a result of Harvey's experiences working aboard the fishing vessel We're Here, however, he ends the story as a rugged, disciplined, and industrious young man who has learned and understands the value of hard work.

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Harvey is a spoiled, arrogant, and self-centered young boy when the story begins. He has lived a life of privilege, and he has been conditioned to believe that his wealth and status will get him everything he wants. Harvey’s father devoted his time solely to his business. He had no time to teach his son the value of hard work. As a result, Harvey’s main role model in life is a man who valued his work only as a means to obtain wealth.

The crew on the ship take the time to teach Harvey the values that his father neglected to teach him. They invest time in teaching him honor and respect, and they help him develop his skills as a fisherman. At first, Harvey looks down on the fisherman, as he considers himself better than them. As he works alongside them, however, he begins to respect them for their values. The fisherman treat Harvey as an equal, not as a person of wealth, and it is as their equal that he learns to respect others for their actions and not for their means. Harvey adopts a code of ethics based on honor and hard work. He learns how to work as part of a team for a mutual goal—not a self-serving one. He learns how to treat others with respect, but more importantly, he learns to respect himself.

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When readers first encounter Harvey Cheyne, Jr., he is the arrogant and privileged son of a wealthy railroad magnate who has suffered the misfortune of falling overboard from a transatlantic steamship. At fifteen, he is rebellious and undisciplined. He has no conception of work or patience for situations outside his control.

His months aboard We're Here teach him patience; he is not returned to port, as he initially insists, and he learns much about hard work and conquering one's fears. Disko Troop, the owner and captain of the schooner that rescues Harvey, is at first unimpressed with him, and for good reason. Harvey is insolent and used to his father's money to get himself out of trouble.

Harvey endures corporal punishment from Captain Troop and Long Jack and soon learns the work of commercial fishing. His world view is broadened because of his natural intelligence and the time he spends with men unlike himself: Portuguese, Irish, working class, and black.

Harvey eventually earns both the respect of the captain, who sees him develop skills and understanding of the value of acquiring knowledge and experience through hard, hands-on work, and his father, a man who has prospered despite coming from humble roots.

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