Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 670
Here are some quotes from Mutiny on the Bounty:
"Roger and I," observed my mother, "have been studying the ideas of J. J. Rousseau. As you know, he believes that true happiness can only be enjoyed by man in a state of nature."
Roger Byam's mother says this to Bligh when they first meet. Bligh was friends with Byam's deceased father. Byam and his mother have an interest in the French philosopher Rousseau, who believed that people were only happy in a state of nature and that civilization imposed restraints on people that made them unhappy. This interest explains why Byam is interested in going to Tahiti and helps explain why he finds Tahiti to his liking. The freedom of Tahiti is juxtaposed with the harshness of Bligh's discipline on the Bounty.
"Christian was what women call a romantic-looking man; his moods of gaiety alternated with fits of black depression, and he possessed a fiery temper which he controlled by efforts that brought the sweat to his brow. Though only a master's mate, a step above a midshipman, he was of gentle birth—better born than Bligh and a gentleman in manner and speech."
This is Byam's first description of Fletcher Christian, one of the officers on board the Bounty. He is described as somewhat mercurial and impulsive and is a romantic figure. He is of a higher class than Bligh and is a gentleman, and Bligh resents Christian for being more elite than he is.
"Waste no more time in complaints, for you will get no redress! I am the only judge of what is right and wrong. Damn your eyes! I'm tired of you and your complaints! The first man to complain from now on will be seized up and flogged."
Early on in the voyage, the men in the crew begin to complain because they think they are being deprived of their full rations of meat, and they are forced to eat pumpkin instead of bread. Captain Bligh responds to their complaints with the promise to flog them if they complain. The officers in particular begin to grumble, as they believe the captain and his clerk have stolen from the victuals of the ship. The crew lives in a state of constant hunger, making them more likely to mutiny.
"Seen for the first time by European eyes, this coast is like nothing else on our workaday planet; a landscape, rather, of some fantastic dream."
Byam is intrigued by Tahiti when he first sees it. He begins to live a life of ease on the island, as he learns the language to compile his dictionary and lives among the people. When the men are first on the island, discipline is relaxed a bit, and when Bligh attempts to reimpose discipline, the men begin to rebel.
"Never was the situation with respect to Bligh so critical as at that moment, and it was to his credit that he showed no sign of flinching. The men were in a savage mood, and it was touch and go as to whether he would be shot where he stood; but he glared at each of them in turn as though challenging them to do so."
Christian has Bligh tied up on the ship, and he points a bayonet at Bligh's throat. the men in the crew hate Bligh so much that they want to shoot him, but he is instead released in a small boat.
"I can recall Bligh's very words: 'Yes, you bloody hound! I do think so! You must have stolen some of mine or you would be able to give a better account of your own!' What a thing to say to his second-in-command! I more than half believe that was what goaded Christian to desperation. What do you think?"
Tinkler remembers the words that Bligh spoke to Christian right before the mutiny. Tinkler tells Byam that he believes it was these words that pushed Christian to conduct the mutiny. He thinks that Bligh was abusive towards Christian.