The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Raib Avers is the most interesting and, in spite of his rough exterior and domineering ways, the most sympathetic character in the novel. At first glance, he appears to be a mean-tempered, petty tyrant, but it gradually becomes clear that most of the negative comments about Captain Avers come from Athens and Byrum, two querulous malcontents. The intensity of Avers’s voice when he tries to educate his son in the ways of the sea and the tenderness and regret with which he acknowledges Buddy’s goodness albeit his weakness (“He is a good child, never give me trouble. . . . Maybe dass what de motter is—lack of spirit”) indicate clearly that he is a loving, if inarticulate, father. His conduct toward his own father in like manner demonstrates his devotion to and respect for the old man. Captain Raib is hard on his crew, but he is also astute in judging their abilities and, in his own way, loyal to them. He leaves Vemon behind only to try and teach him a lesson and has no intention of abandoning him. Raib is a somewhat desperate and bitter man: “Got a demon, y’know. Mon dat rage and laugh de way he do.” His laughter is bitter because he knows that the joke is on him; Raib can see no way to accommodate himself to the changing tides of the world without becoming a despoiler like the North Americans or a predator like Desmond Eden. Raib oscillates between laughter and anger because each serves as a defense against despair, against the futility of carrying on in such a fallen world. Yet Raib’s chosen response is finally not bitterness but a stubborn resolution to go forward, to seek out “de edge of de world. . . . Ain’t nothing out here but de reefs and de wind and de sea, and de mon who know de bleak ocean de best has got to be de...

(The entire section is 715 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Raib Avers

Raib Avers, the captain of theLillias Eden, a turtle fisherman and sailor. He is a resident of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, as are most of the rest of the crew. Unforgiving and coarse, the fifty-four-year-old Raib is more comfortable with sails than with his new diesel engines, more attuned to an older, simpler time and bitter in the face of the modern world. As the story begins, he is sailing out late to an exhausted turtling ground in a half-renovated ship with a ragged crew, a bad radio, no life preservers, and no cook. He taunts and bullies the crew until they begin to assert themselves. He makes a desperate attempt to sail out of a dangerous reef and is fatally wounded in the ensuing crash. The ship sinks.

Junior (Speedy) Bodden

Junior (Speedy) Bodden, an inexperienced crewman determined to learn from his first voyage. A black Honduran, he is a hardworking example to the crew and has the captain’s hard-earned respect. He dreams of returning to his piece of farmland on Grand Cayman. Acknowledging changing ways, he is determined to survive and, indeed, is the lone survivor of the shipwreck.

Byrum Powery Watler

Byrum Powery Watler, an experienced crewman, though a listless and lazy sower of discord. He is a modern sailor who wants everything on the ship to be up to date, who shows no respect toward the captain, and who tells stories about the backgrounds of the captain and others.


(The entire section is 615 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The main characters of Far Tortuga are the nine members of the crew of the Lillias Eden, who put to sea in the Caribbean south...

(The entire section is 456 words.)