Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

by Jerome K. Jerome
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What additional personality traits do you come to know about the three friends -- the writer, George, and Harris -- in the third chapter of Jerome's Three Men in a Boat?

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Here the men decide what to take along on their river trip. As usual, the task generates much debate and discussion. The narrator, known as J., is quick to judge and assess people. He equates Harris with his own Uncle Podger: a man who claims to know much and to be able to do much, but who falls short when it comes to implementation. We already see that J. goes on tangents when reporting on any topic. He also prefers to wear “red bathing drawers” whenever he goes to the shore.

Harris comes out as described by J., above. This attribute will surface again when Harris makes an attempt to cook scrambled eggs in Chapter XI.

George appears to be the most methodical and decisive of the three, and he is the most helpful in this task. He’s the one who makes the list and who nails down exactly what they will need. He decides on using the canvas boat cover instead of a tent. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know everything that he claims to know, either. He suggests that they will be able to wash their flannel suits in the river. They’ll try to do this in Chapter XVII, with poor results. J. is quite hard here on George: “We were to know in the days to come, when it was too late, that George was a miserable impostor, who could evidently have known nothing whatever about the matter.” This harsh foreshadowing tells us much about both George and J.

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