Chapter 35 Summary
Fritz is about to embark on his first solo kayak trip. He dons the swimming suit and feels strange puffing into tubes to inflate the suit, making him look twice his size. Of course, his family cannot help but laugh.
Before leaving, Fritz practices several maneuvers, rowing swiftly, veering right and left, and flinging the boat on its side and righting it. When he feels ready and has received his family's applause and encouragement, Fritz rows the kayak into the river current that will take him to the bay. The current proves stronger than he anticipated and soon Fritz is farther out into the ocean than intended.
The father cannot allow Fritz to be truly on his own. When Fritz is out of sight, he and two sons take their sailboat to follow Fritz. When they reach the ocean, they cannot see Fritz. Finally they hear a gunshot and locate the kayak in the far distance. By the time they reach him, Fritz has harpooned a walrus. His father is amazed by the quickness of the kayak, the swiftness of his eldest son in learning to handle the boat, and his hunting skills. However, he reprimands Fritz for going so far outside the bay.
The walrus is too heavy, so the father suggests they leave the animal. The boys beg him for the fine white tusks, and he agrees. Fritz, however, wants to take the walrus head to clean and embalm for mounting on the kayak's bow. The father says it will create a horrific smell, but Fritz thinks he can prevent that. Finally the father consents.
Decapitating the walrus takes longer than anticipated. They had not brought the right tools. Engrossed, they do not notice dark clouds on the horizon. The storm moves in quickly, and there are huge waves. They must make their way back.
Fritz leaves first. The father keeps his son's boat in sight, although he is absorbed in preventing the sailboat from capsizing. The rains intensify and the cloud cover lowers, narrowing visibility to a few feet.
The father can no longer see the kayak and fears for his son's life, bemoaning his decision to allow him to make his way home alone. Finally, the storm passes. Visibility is restored, although the sea remains disturbed. The father can finally make out the shoreline and sees his wife and youngest son. He is ecstatic and grateful to see his oldest son also safely home.