What is Captain Hiram Wallace's distinguishing characteristic in Jacob Have I Loved?Chapter 5 question.  Please answer.

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of distinguishing characteristics about Captain Hiram Wallace.  Probably the most notable one is his reputation.  Hiram Wallace is thought of as having been a coward in his youth.  According to the story told by the "old people", he and his father had been out on the water when a severe summer storm had hit many years ago.  They had let down their sails and were waiting out the storm, but the lightning was so frightenng that young Hiram, terrified that they would be struck by that lightning, impulsively rushed out from under the sail cover and chopped down the tall mast of the boat with an axe.  After the storm had abated, Hiram and his father had to be towed home by "an obliging neighbor", as their skipjack, mastless, could not be steered.  Hiram's act was looked upon as an act of cowardice instead of practicality, and he became "the butt of all the watermen's jokes".  He soon left the island, and had not been seen for many years.

Captain Wallace is now an old man with a long, white beard.  He is friendly, and has a sharp wit.  The Captain is quick to befriend Call and Sara Louise, and strikes up a special closeness with Call.  He also has a propensity to make jokes, "great jokes" according to Call, "really good ones", not like the ones Sara Louise tells (Chapter 5).