Anchor's Aweigh Critical Essays

Jean Lee Latham


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Latham’s books almost invariably succeeded with young readers, principally because of the author’s skill in helping them to identify with the heroes, and this book is no exception. For example, many young people will understand Farragut’s anxiety when he learns from his neighbors that his father is a “foreigner.” They can likewise sympathize with his longing to emulate his father’s somewhat mysterious, but adventurous, past—in this case with his romantic longing for the sea and ships. Many young readers would like to have drifted down the Mississippi River on a flatboat or to have been excited by the promise that they might someday go to sea. Farragut was also confronted with hazings and bullies on shipboard as a fledgling, ten-year-old midshipman, and he was grateful for the protection and guidance of men such as friendly bosun’s mate William Kingsbury, midshipman Matthews, and Captain Porter. Readers will also identify with Farragut’s attempts to learn the ropes of complex sailing ships, as well as with his initially hesitant but soon competent ability not only to take orders but also to give them crisply and clearly. Likewise, Glasgow’s tim-orous and then bolder courtships of his two wives will evoke familiar stirrings.

More than a mere narrator, Latham manages to invest her story with considerable suspense. Because Navy life was often boring and Farragut was an adventurous soul, he had to weather a number of disappointments while...

(The entire section is 597 words.)