Study Guide

The Art of Fielding What's Up With the Epigraph?

By Chad Harbach

What's Up With the Epigraph?

So be cheery, my lads
Let your hearts never fall
While the bold Harpooner
Is striking the ball.
Westish College fight song

We're surprised this book doesn't have an epigraph from Moby Dick. But, like Moby Dick, The Art of Fielding's epigraph is fictional. Unlike Moby Dick, there's only one of them. (Thanks, Chad.)

Our unofficial epigraph here is from a fictional fight song for Westish College, the setting of the novel (check out "Setting" for more). We never get to hear the rest of the song at all, so we only get this snippet—completely out of context. It reminds us of the optimism of "Casey at the Bat" before Casey, like Henry, ends up failing.

Of course, Henry isn't known as a batter (he does bat that ball with his head at the end, but that's a discussion for "What's Up With the Ending?"). Henry's known as a shortstop. In fact, none of our characters are known for their batting skills, but the snippet is not just about hitting homeruns. With its encouragement to let your "hearts never fall," being a "bold Harpooner" is what this epigraph is all about. How many characters, then, live up to this charge?

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