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“Flores” by Ethel Wilson tells the story of the Effie Cee and her small crew. Captained by Findlay Crabbe, the fishing boat heads for home with two additional passengers: Jason Black and a small Indian boy who has broken his leg.
Jason wants to get to Port Alberni because his lover Josie sent a letter telling him of her pregnancy and her desperation. She has threatened suicide if he does not come and marry her. Since she does not know if he received her letter or that he is coming, Jason fears the worst if he does not get to her as soon as possible.
The small child was picked up by the boat from a small island. His father and mother row out and transfer the boy into the larger boat with the assistance of Jason. There are no accommodations for passengers so both Jason and the small boy remain on the deck.
Despite the good weather reports, that same night the boat runs into story seas. Ed, a large black crew member, does not listen to the captain’s orders and knocks him down. Thinking that he knows better than the captain, Ed does run the boat into the rocks with the boat breaking apart. Everyone on board is killed.
The newspapers report the loss of the boat and no knowledge of the crew. Later, it is reported that it was believed that Jason Black was on board as well. No one was aware of the child’s presence on board.
Whose situation was the most tragic?
Captain Crabbe-Apparently, he was a good captain and family man. He had a wife, son, and daughter at home. When the report of the loss of the ship comes, Mrs. Crabbe stands on the pier waiting for her husband who promised that he would be home the week of Christmas. This family lost their husband, father, and bread winner.
Jason Black-He was young man of twenty-two. He received a letter from a girl [Josie] with whom he had a love affair. She informs him that she is pregnant and wants him to come to her to marry. Her desperation includes the threat of suicide. When the ship sinks, Josie does not read the newspaper and has no idea that Jason was on the boat. The story alludes to Josie killing herself.
Days had passed and continued to pass. Distraught, alone, deprived of hope and faith---and without consolation of love, she took secretly and with terror what she deemed to be the appropriate path.
The unnamed Indian boy-Strangely, the boy is not accompanied on the boat with one of his parents. No one on the boat knows his name. Without any discussion, the boy is given over to the care of Captain Crabbe. Jason takes over the boy’s care when he is seasick and before the crashing of the boat. The family finally goes to Alberni to take the boy home; however, there is not record of the boy being admitted or treated.
Ed- The crewman seemed to have a wife somewhere. His only concern was to be in Alberni during the holidays. Apparently, he had no respect for the captain and caused the sinking of the ship. His loss was not the most tragic.
From these vignettes, the most tragic could be any of the three. A family man, a father-to-be, and a young boy---each of these people will be missed by their families. Their deaths impacted many other lives. No one knows the outcome of the ones who are left behind. All of the stories are heartbreaking.
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