The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Be warned, however, this is no Story of a Bad Boy, no What Katy Did. If strong ideas and action offend you, read not more. Find another companion to share your idle hours. For my part I intend to tell the truth as I lived it. (Preface.1)
Charlotte contrasts her narrative (that is, the story she's telling about herself) with two other nineteenth-century texts about young adults, Thomas Bailey Aldrich's Story of a Bad Boy (1869) and Susan Coolidge's What Katy Did (1872). Aldrich's is a boy's adventure story, while Coolidge's is the tale of a girl/tomboy who must learn to be good. Charlotte claims that her journal is different from these stories because her writing is true, contains radical ideas, and defies expectations about what a girl's story can be, especially during that time.
To complete this elegant picture, Captain Jaggery sat upon one of a pair of armchairs in the fine full dress, an open book on his knee. It was, in fact, the Bible. When I came in he rose to his feet and made an elegant bow. (5.8)
The captain's main reading material on the ship is the Bible. But does Jaggery himself seem to follow Christian values in his treatment of the crew? Does Jaggery practice what he preaches, or is it all, as Charlotte's phrasing suggests, just an "elegant picture"?
"Talk to them, Miss Doyle," he urged. "Show them a little softness. Read to them from your moral books. Preach the gospel if you have a mind. Listen to their tales. I promise, they will fill your pretty head with the most fantastical notions." (5.37)
Charlotte's role on the ship, according to Captain Jaggery, is to act as a civilizing force. He thinks that her presence, along with reading from moral books, will improve the men. This notion was common in nineteenth-century society, but is it true aboard the Seahawk?