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Themes

"To be or not to be? That is the question." OK, fine, it's not the question here. That would be Hamlet. The question for this book might be something more along the lines of "To do or not to do?" Or maybe even "What the heck should I do?" Charlotte Doyle, you see, has a very difficult time trusting herself to do much of anything. And why should she? She's a very young girl, a person whom nineteenth-century society doesn't trust with much of anything – except, of course, keeping quiet and looking pretty. When Charlotte boards the Seahawk, however, she must start making her own choices. Learning to think and act for herself becomes a significant part of Charlotte's maturation – and also plays a role in why Charlotte decides, in the end, to not return to a society that doesn't trust her to make her own choices.

Questions About Choices

  1. Why does Charlotte have such a difficult time in the beginning of the novel believing that she's capable of making her own decisions?
  2. What is it about the captain's whipping of Zachariah that finally motivates Charlotte to make the decision to speak up?
  3. Why does Charlotte choose to not put on her ladylike clothing and beg Captain Jaggery for forgiveness at the end of the novel?
  4. What are the consequences of Charlotte's final decision to leave her family?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Not everything can be a choice. Sometimes we have to do things that we'd rather not do.

It's not so much the actual choice that is important, as it is the opportunity to make that choice.

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