Study Guide

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Chapter 8

By Avi

Chapter 8

  • Charlotte gains her sea legs and settles into life on the boat.
  • Each morning she wakes and prepares to present herself to Captain Jaggery on deck. Her clothes are by this point pretty filthy, so she puts one of her dresses away and saves it so at least it will be clean for the ship's landing in Providence.
  • Charlotte also takes breakfast in the morning served by Zachariah. Weak coffee, hard bread, and molasses. The breakfast of champions! Dinner (the second meal) consists of the same, and supper (the last meal of the day) is a bit of meat, rice, beans, and more gross coffee. Bon appétit.
  • On Sundays, Charlotte reads to the men from the Bible. All of the guys also shave and wash their clothes on this day.
  • Charlotte's bright point of the day is her daily 30-minute tea with Captain Jaggery where she reports to him about all the activities on the ship.
  • To pass the time, Charlotte listens to the men's tales of faraway places and fantastic journeys. She fancies that her contact with them improves them.
  • The crew gradually accepts Charlotte and soon she takes on the role of the "ship's boy" (8.15).
  • Charlotte begins climbing up into the rigging.
  • She also becomes friends with Zachariah who's often the butt of the jokes by the crew, since he is the only black person on board. The sailors do, however, admire his cooking.
  • Charlotte reveals some of Zachariah's history. First, turns out he's the oldest on board at 50, though Charlotte thinks he looks older. He doesn't know how to read or write. He knows nothing of Christianity.
  • Zachariah gives Charlotte a pair of trousers and a shirt, a set of clothes that looks like the crew's clothing. Charlotte is offended at first, though she later tries on the clothes in her cabin.
  • Feeling kind of weird about putting on the sailor suit, Charlotte composes an essay on the proper behavior for young women and reads it to Captain Jaggery at tea.
  • Captain Jaggery never allows the crew to be idle. He sometimes hits them with things or threatens to confine them to the brig, dock their salary, take away their meals, lash them, or dunk them in the sea (this is called keelhauling – no, thank you).
  • All of a sudden the wind stops and the ship stands still in the sea. The crew tries to tow the boat, but with no luck.
  • As the boat drifts along, Jaggery pushes the crew harder and harder. Charlotte warns him that the crew is growing tired of the treatment but he pays her no mind.
  • The chapter ends with Charlotte hinting that there might be a storm coming soon, though not one from the sea: one from the crew.