As one would expect of a coming-of-age story, it’s the child protagonist of Captains Courageous, Harvey Cheyne, who learns most of the moral lessons on offer. It's him, more than another character in the story, who grows and develops over time, turning from an entitled spoiled brat into a decent, hard-working young man with a good set of moral values. Above all, Harvey has learned the value of humility, something he most certainly didn’t have when he first wound up on Captain Disko Troop’s fishing schooner, when he had the audacity to accuse the captain of stealing his money.
Unsurprisingly, Troop’s first impressions of Harvey are quite negative, to say the least. He comes across as an over-privileged rich kid who desperately needs to learn some basic manners. Troop could’ve been forgiven for thinking that having someone like Harvey aboard ship would be a stroke of bad luck.
Nevertheless, Troop’s first impressions eventually prove to be inaccurate. It turns out that there’s something more laudable beneath Harvey’s pampered exterior. Before long, Harvey is mucking in with the rest of the ship’s crew, proving himself to be a hard-working team-player. Harvey proves himself to be a skillful fisherman, which it’s fair to say that Disko Troop could not have foreseen in a million years. But that was because Troop was judging a book by its cover, something he now knows was a mistake.