Captains Courageous

by Rudyard Kipling

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What is the summary of chapter 5 of Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling?

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Chapter 5 of Captain's Courageous is a desultory stretch of the narrative, featuring not only Harvey, the young protagonist, but also fleshing out the varied members of the crew of the cod-fishing schooner and providing a sense of the texture of the daily routine aboard the We're Here.

After only a few days at sea, the 15-year-old Harvey seems to have acclimated fairly well, considering his wealthy background. From working with oilskins, he's acquires "gurry-sores" on his wrists as marks of the trade and learned how to handle the gaff and gob-stick from the dory in fog-swept waters.

When he's first allowed to take the wheel, Harvey does well for awhile but shows his inexperience in accidentally tearing an old staysail in the process. He soon learns to mend the sail with palm thread. And he's able to surprise Disko Troop, the tough ship's captain, by knowing enough math to use the quadrant or "hog-and-yoke."

More to the point, Harvey has learned to blend in with the ship's crew through his hard work and positive attitude. Many thought him insane when he was first brought aboard, due to his stories about life among the wealthy, but now believe that he just "yarns good," as Tom Platt puts it.

Through their constant banter, exchange of information and techniques, and tall tales of exploits on the waves, Kipling paints a portrait of the We're Here crew. The hard-bitten, highly-skilled, and yet doleful Disko; his son Dan, Harvey's young companion and competitor; Uncle Salterer, the eccentric ex-farmer; the humble, laconic Penn; and the Gaelic-speaking black cook who tacitly acknowledges Harvey's provenance all contribute to expanding the young scion's awareness of the variety of human nature.

The final incident of the chapter, in which the crew of the We're Here trade the crew of a French bark for tobacco, illustrates one of the main themes of the book. Harvey is the only one of the crew who speaks any French, yet his grasp of the language is too limited to be any help in making the trade. Tom Platt finally seals the deal through the use of sign-language. Although Harvey may be on the sea with this crew, he realizes he will never truly understand the mysteries of this life as they do.

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The title of chapter five is "Disko Troop Proves Right."

As The We're Here makes its way through thick fog, Long Jack teaches Harvey the ropes. Harvey finds it difficult to remember all the names that Long Jack is throwing at him and admits that he doesn't know how to reef the foresail, but Jack is adamant he must learn. He even threatens to hit him in the ribs with a length of rope every time he gets an answer wrong. Before long, Harvey is able to answer all of Jack's questions correctly.

The schooner stops at a place where the captain Disko Troop says the sounding will be sixty, and Harvey and Dan "bait up" and throw their lines over the...

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side of the boat. Dan catches a 20-pound cod covered in crabs. Harvey asks if it's still good to eat and Dan tells him that when you find a fish like that it is a sign that "they all been herding by the thousand."

Before long everyone is hauling in cod after cod. Harvey asks why they don't always fish this way, and he is told they can until they start dressing down the fish (meaning they throw all their innards and heads back into the sea) and scare them off.

Dan and Harvey are then tasked with preparing the trawlers for a night fish. They bait the trawl-lines, and the men leave in the dory. Harvey stays on board the schooner to ring the bell and guide the men back through the fog.

At the end of the day, Harvey is so tired that he falls asleep at the dinner table.

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Chapter 5 is an important chapter in the novel Captains Courageous. It begins with Dan sharing secrets about Hattie with Harvey and making him promise never to reveal those secrets under "oath of solemn secrecy." This event is pivotal because it illustrates the boy's acceptance of Harvey and their growing friendship. However, the boys sometimes fight but that just seems to strengthen their relationship.

As well, Harvey is toughening up; he has boils from his wet jersey and oilskins cutting into his skin. Dan cuts into the sores with a razor, and Dan proclaims Harvey a "blooded Banker." Harvey is beginning to grow into a strong, capable, young man.

As the chapter continues, the crew all spin yarns consisting of all kinds of tales. Harvey's tales consist of stories of rich people. Only Dan and the cook believe Harvey's fantastic stories.

The We're Here enters dense fog, and Harvey is afraid. He discovers that he must overcome his fear because the fish are biting. Harvey is also becoming quite skilled on the schooner even though he rips the sail when he attempts to show off his newly acquired skills.

Harvey finds himself imitating the other men which the crew finds quite amusing because he is merely pretending to be a man.

Lastly, Harvey and Tom Platt board a French vessel to trade goods. Harvey is puzzled that the French don't understand his French language, though limited, yet they appear to understand Tom Platt's sign language. The chapter ends when Tom tells Harvey they understood him because they are Freemasons, and "Harvey had another mystery of the deep sea to brood upon."

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The way I would summarize Chapter 5 is by saying that this is the chapter where Harvey Cheyne really becomes part of the crew and a real fisherman.

During this chapter, we see all sorts of things that show Harvey learning the ropes and that show him getting to know the rest of his crew better.  For example, we see him learning how to do a bit of navigation.  And we see him learning the lore of the old time navy from Tom Platt.

During the chapter, Harvey learns a lot about fishing and about being a member of a fishing boat's crew.

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