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The Caine Mutiny

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Summary

Chapters 14–15

Summary Chapters 14–15

The sailors become bitter. What most alienates them from Queeg is his lack of compassion. Queeg metes out cruel punishments, overreacting when Stilwell is caught reading a comic book on deck, and venting his embarrassment at his own mistake by refusing to allow the helmsman off the ship during their leave time. His assignment of five days confinement for various offenses, most of which Queeg himself was responsible for, makes the crew hate their captain. On top of this, Queeg's liquor smuggling operation paints him as a selfish, elitist, and hypocritical man. For the crew, the worst part of the liquor smuggling is the fact that Queeg uses all of his sailor's rations to accomplish the scheme. When Willie steps off the Caine and into the waiting arms of his mother and his lover, he takes a complicated step in his relationship with May Wynn. He had hoped that his mother would never meet his girlfriend. When a meeting becomes inevitable, Willie's action can be regarded as brave and mature. It can also be regarded as infantile, however. He introduces May Wynn as Marie Minotti, a name which he has never used before. Willie knows that May's Italian name will upset his mother, who wants him to marry an Anglican woman. By introducing May as Marie, he assaults his mother's ideas. We can interpret Willie's use of the name Marie as a brave refusal to bow down to elitist snobbery, but we can also read it as Willie throwing in the towel. If he refuses to finesse the situation or exercise any subtlety, his mother will certainly react badly to May. Later, Willie claims that the unusual introduction was an attempt to start things off in a completely straightforward and honest way, but this explanation is too simple.