Study Guide

Dylan Byron in The Great Wide Sea

By M. H. Herlong

Dylan Byron

If you're ever tempted to run off and go sail around the world—which, um, you probably won't be after reading this book—remember to pack the essentials. You need water, a GPS, some fishing line, a few life vests…and a Dylan.

The unsung hero of his family, Dylan is the most calm, cool, and collected eleven-year-old in the history of dudedom. The middle Byron brother, he's smart, even-tempered, and good in a crisis.

Epic Chill

Ben has a short temper but Dylan tends to just go with the flow. Or maybe that's "go with the currents"—Dylan learns early on that he has a lot of sailing know-how. Dylan's happy to draw on that expertise as needed, but he doesn't flaunt it. Unlike Ben, he doesn't question his father's decisions as captain at every turn.

Bottom line, Dylan's a follower, not a leader. Dylan "always knew what to do and he always did his job well," Ben tells us.

But he never asked to take the tiller. He would take it if Dad told him to, and he could handle it just fine. But he never seemed to want to do it. He always seemed just along for the ride. (7.16)

Classic middle sibling behavior…and also the makings of the most well-adjusted Byron boy.

Mr. Universe

The other thing to know about Dylan is that if life were a science fair, he'd always take first prize. On the Chrysalis, he handles all the math and charting-type stuff. Then later, on the island, he's his family's main provider. He sets traps for food and draws on science to distill drinkable water.

He's also really trustworthy. While Ben keeps his "adult" fears from his youngest brother, Gerry, he often confides in Dylan. (Sometimes he even asks Dylan for help.) Gerry seems to trust Dylan the most, too. When he's learning to swim, he relies on Dylan for support. Ben says:

I could see he [Gerry] didn't trust me. So Dylan held him. I watched and played cheerleader. (18.37-18.38)

Dylan doesn't just have brains; he also has heart.

Among all Dylan's good qualities, maybe the most admirable is how selfless he is. On the island, when he's dying from infection, he focuses on passing down his survival know-how to his brothers instead of whining and moaning. When Ben wants to go find a doctor, Dylan's only thought is for his little brother. He says:

"Don't go. Don't leave Gerry alone." (38.95)

Basically, he's a solid guy. Dylan Byron for President.