Queeg or "The Shrub"...You Be the Judge
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- Queeg or "The Shrub"...You Be the Judge
The Caine Mutiny
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This article is about the novel. For the 1954 film, see The Caine Mutiny (film).
The Caine Mutiny is a 1951 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Herman Wouk. The novel grew out of Wouk's personal experiences aboard a destroyer-minesweeper in the Pacific in World War II and deals with, among other things, the moral and ethical decisions made at sea as interpreted by the code of the US Navy.
The novel is about a rich, callow young man named Willie Keith who secures a reserve commission through the Navy's officer procurement system to avoid being drafted into the Army during World War II. The first part of the book covers his basic Naval Officer training as well as his trials and tribulations with his mother and his new girlfriend. After barely graduating from the course, due to countless demirits, he is assigned to the Destroyer Minesweeper (DMS) U.S.S Caine, a combat-battered vessel converted from an old World War I destroyer. Keith is disciplined by the Captain for poor performance.
The first Captain, Captian de Vriess, is soon relieved by Lieutenant Commander Francis Queeg. a strong, authoritarian figure whom Willie at first believes to be just what the condemned Caine and its poorly disciplined crew needs. However as the Caine begins its missions, Queeg is soon regarded as a coward and incompetent, after running away from combat, losing minesweeping equipment, and running over the ship's towline while disciplining a sailor and the moral officer, Willie Kieth, for a shirtail hanging out. He is given the nickname "Old Yellowstain" after he decides to leave a yellow marker for the army to land on enemy soil, but leaves too quickly to provide adequate cover for them. Tensions soon rise on the ship due to Queeg's sub-par commanding efforts, perceived abuse of some of the crew, and the total non-support of the officers. First officer Steve Maryk and Lieutenant Tom Keefer, who formerly worked as a magazine writer, begin to discuss whether Queeg has the mental problem of paranoia. Keefer in particular is keen to point Maryk in that direction, quoting from books and generally egging Maryk on.
When Maryk tries to bring a record of Queeg's eccentric and potentially paranoid behavior to the attention of the fleet's Admiral Halsey, Keefer refuses to be a part of what he considered to be a mutiny. Subsequently, during a violent typhoon, Queeg makes decisions that Maryk believes will lead to the sinking of the ship. Maryk relieves the captain from duty on the grounds of mental illness. Keith, on duty as the Officer of the Deck (OOD) supports Maryk's decision to relieve Queeg, in the sudden crisis at hand.
After the alleged mutiny a court-martial is held, Keefer distances himself from Maryk even though he has no Navy career in mind, and thus finally shows himself to be a coward. Navy pilot Lt. Barney Greenwald, formerly a crack attorney in civilian life, represents Maryk. Greenwald gets Queeg on the stand and prods him until he falls apart and shows his mental problems. Maryk is acquitted and Queeg is sent to a secluded office job for the Navy in Iowa. A drunk Greenwald shows up at the celebration party after the verdict, and accuses Keefer of being a coward. He tells the gathering that he feels ashamed he had to destroy Queeg on the stand. The party is ruined after Greenwald throws his drink over Keefer leaving a yellow stain on his attire, which symbolises him being the new "Old Yellowstain," because of his sly ways to keep himself clean and out of trouble in the trial.
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