The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
How we cite our quotes:
A man was waiting for us. He was a small man – most seafaring mean are small – barely taller than I and dressed in a frayed green jacket over a white shirt that was none too clean. His complexion was weathered dark, his chin ill-shaven. His mouth was unsmiling. His fingers fidgeted and his feet shuffled. His daring, unfocused eyes, set deep in a narrow ferret-like face, gave the impression of one who is constantly on watch for threats that might appear from any quarter at any moment. (2.1)
Charlotte's narration is always attentive to the others' physical appearance, as in this description of the ship's second mate, Mr. Keetch. Some say you can't judge a book by its cover, but Charlotte often does exactly this, and makes assumptions about character based on physical appearance. (She's especially interested in clothing as it relates to social status.)
There was nothing else. No porthole. No chair. Not so much as a single piece of polite ornamentation. It was ugly, unnatural, and, as I stooped there, impossible. (2.29)
Charlotte violently objects to the squalor of her cabin. She calls the lack of ornate furnishings not only "ugly," but also "unnatural." The latter is not an insignificant word. In the novel's courtroom scene, Charlotte will have to defend herself against charges of being "unnatural" (Chapter 18).
From his fine coat, from his tall beaver hat, from his glossy black boots, from his clean, chiseled countenance, from the dignified way he carried himself, I knew at once – without having to be told – that this must be Captain Jaggery. And he – I saw it in a glance – was a gentleman, the kind of man I was used to. A man to be trusted. In short, a man to whom I could talk and upon whom I could rely. (3.13)
In Charlotte's mind, outer beauty – things like fancy hats and good posture and all that – equals inner beauty. Stuff like solid moral worth. With her eye for fashion, Charlotte seems to read clothing as a language all its own. But is she reading correctly?