"The Navy is much more than a job; much more than service to country. It is a way of life. It gets in your blood."
Albert Pratt, The Honorable Assistant Secretary of the Navy 1955


By: Herman Wouk


Summary about the Caine Mutiny
It was not a mutiny in the old-time sense, of course, with flashing of cutlasses, a captian in chains, and desperate sailors turning outlaws. After all, it happened in 1944 in the United States Navy. But the court of inquiry recommened trial for mutiny, and the episode became known as "the Caine mutiny" throughout the service. The story begins with Willie Keith because the event turned on his personality as the massive door of a vault turns on a small jewel bearing (Wouk).........The Caine Mutiny is a book is about a young man, Willis “Willie” Keith, who joins the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army. He is put onto a destroyer minesweeper, the USS Caine. The USS Caine is an old World War 1 warship. Keith hates the ship and is reluctant to do his job until he receives an inspirational note from his father who is dying from cancer. Philip Queeg relieves the first captain of the Caine, Captain de Vriess. Queeg is a strict authority who Willie believes is just what the Caine needs. However, as the weeks go on the crew soon sees Queeg as a coward and incompetent. The First Officer Steve Maryk and Lieutenant Tom Keefer soon start discussing whether Queeg has a mental problem called paranoia. Keefer is planting a seed in Maryk’s head and trying to egg Maryk on about Queeg. Maryk starts to make a journal of all the weird things that Queeg does just in case he is crazy and they need proof. During a typhoon Maryk decides to relieve the captain on the grounds of mental illness because of the decision Queeg is making. This causes a crisis for Maryk and Willie because Willie backed up Maryk in his decision. Maryk is put on trail on the grounds of committing mutiny. While on the stands Queeg shows his mental problems and Maryk is found not guilty. Keefer becomes the new captain of the Caine. Later on after the war is over Willie becomes the last captain of the Caine. In the end the mutiny of the Caine is never fully justified because Maryk's lawyer never fully answers the question of how sick Queeg really was and the entire trial was a sham.

*Main Characters in the book*

Captian Queeg: Captain of the USS Caine, thought to be crazy and often acts rash. A characteristic of Queeg is the two steel balls he rolls in his hands when he is nervous.
Greenwald: Maryk's lawyer during the mutiny trail
Maryk: fisherman who wants be part of the regular Navy, relieves Queeg and is tried for mutiny
Keefer: Novelist, a captain of the Caine after the mutiny trial
Willie Keith: main character in The Caine Mutiny, you see the story through his experiences and viewpoint
May Wynn: a club singer who is Willie's girlfriend whom he breaks up with and in the end asks her to marry him.

Why is The Caine Mutiny Outstanding?
Why is The Caine Mutiny an outstanding book for the college bound, you ask? Have you ever read a book that you just can't put down? The Caine Mutiny is exactly that book. Caine Mutiny is about a destroyer minesweeper, the USS Caine, which is fighting in World War Two. (For a complete background view the summary above).

The first reason The Caine Mutiny is an outstanding book is because it keeps the readers attention throughout the whole book. The Caine Mutiny is a thrilling, action packed novel. The reader is constantly wondering what is going to happen next to the Caine and it’s crew.

The second reason why The Caine Mutiny is an outstanding book is because of all the symbolism that Herman Wouk uses. It is exciting for the reader to figure out where the symbolism is in the book.

One example of the symbolism in The Caine Mutiny is the term “Old Yellowstain”. Old Queeg was given this nickname after he had dropped a yellow marker when he really shouldn’t of. ““Well,” said Keefer to Maryk, lighting a cigarette,“ What did you think of the performance of Old Yellowstain today? “Knock it off, Tom.” “That was something, wasn’t it, turning tail before we ever got to the line of departure and leaving those poor slobs in the LVT’s to navigate for themselves?” (Chapter 20, pg. 258). Old Yellowstain was also significant in one other way dealing with Keefer. “So I’m not going to eat you’re dinner Mr. Keefer, or drink your wine, but simply make my toast and go. Here’s to you Mr. Caine’s favorite author and here’s to your book.” He threw the wine in Keefer’s face (Chapter 37, pg. 483). “Willie was running the ship. Keefer had retired into isolation like Queeg’s- except that he worked on his novel instead of solving jigsaw puzzles. Luckily for Willie, Captain White had taken a liking to him and had put him through intensive training, two months as engineering officer, two months as first lieutenant; he had been gunnery officer when the dispatch can elevating him to the executive post. In all that time Keefer had been executive officer, a sullen, seldom-seen figure around the ship. He had never completely wiped from his face the yellow stain Barney Greenwald had thrown on it” (Chapter 38, pg. 486). The use of the yellow wine being a yellow stain on Keefer's face show that he has become he next Old Yellowstain, you can infer this because he later becomes captain of the Caine and basically becomes exactly how Queeg was.

The next piece of symbolism is very important to the book and one of its characters in particular. The piece of symbolism is the two steel balls Queeg rolls in his hands when he is nervous. These balls symbolize two different things. The first is how the balls act as Queeg’s security blanket. Without them he cracks and gets very nervous. Taking away Queeg’s steel balls would be like taking away a young child’s favorite toy or blanket. Its result would be a catastrophe. The steel balls also represent the two parallel worlds Queeg is living in. Queeg is living two separate lives. One is his normal, sane life that is like any other human’s. The other is the crazy, paranoid, psycho life where he freaks out and overreacts about everything. By the rolling of the two steel balls it shows how his two lives are touching and colliding with each other and he doesn’t know what one he really fits in.


The next piece of symbolism in the book deals with the ship itself, the USS Caine. ““I’ve given up. This ship is an outcast, manned by outcasts, and named for the great outcast of mankind. My destiny is the Caine. It’s the purgatory for my sins”…The captain regarded the Keefer admiringly. “That’s the literary mind for you. I never thought of Caine being a symbolic name-” “The extra e threw you off, Captain. God always likes to veil his symbols a bit, being, among His other attributes, the perfect literary artist” (Chapter 9, pg.98). (For the complete story of Cain and Abel go to http://www.antelope-ebooks.com/RELIGIOUS/Gen04.html) This is symbolism that explains why, in one sailors eyes, they are stuck on the Caine; a gross, beat up ship that never gets any war action. They were put on this ship because they are outcasts just like the Caine is in the Navy. This analogy actually fits the ship and her crew very well.

The last reason why The Caine Mutiny is an outstanding book is because you get to learn about what it is like to be in the Navy. I especially enjoyed this because I didn't know much about the Navy until I read The Caine Mutiny. These days, in the news, all you hear about is the Army. Getting to read and learn about the Navy was very interesting. I got to learn a lot about how the Navy runs and how different things work. It was also interesting to read how a court martial works in the Navy.

The Caine Mutiny is an exciting, actionpacked novel that has great literacy concepts and symbols. It is an outstanding novel that you just can't put down.


I would recommend The Caine Mutiny to anyone. It is a gripping novel that you won't want to put down. The Caine Mutiny can get slow on parts but I think it works to the books advantage. By making it slow it shows you how many Navy personal feel, especially the crew abord the Caine. Most slow parts are only one-two pages long, so you get thorough them quickly. If you enjoy books that are full of action and drama try reading The Caine Mutiny, a wonderful book about the crew abord the USS Caine. (for complete summary go above to Summary about the Caine Mutiny)

What did others think?

"A novel of brilliant viruosity, remarkable not only for it's finely realistic atmosphere and sharply observed charcters, but also for the two most fictional elements of it's plot.... The despcription of the 'mutiny' and the court-martial that follows it are extraoridinary pieces of imaginative writing.... So convincingly has Mr. Wouk created his officers, so subtly has he contrived the series of incidents that culminate in the final drama, that, given both the characters and the situations, the climax is perfectly acceptable.... It is fiction that all along the line throws off real problems and faces them in mature fashion." --- Times Literacy Supplement

"Suberb writing and deft chaaracterization make this the most exciting sea story since Mutiny on the Bounty.
Highly recommended."--- W.K. Harrison, Library Journal

"There is a romance in this novel that might fit with some of the author's previous writing, but the Navy material is something else again. Mr. Wouk has a profound understanding of what Navy man should be, and against some who fell short of the mark he has fired a deadly broadside."--- Harry Gilroy, New York Times

"A provocative book, full of authentic people and atmosphere."--- E.L. Acken, New York Herald Tribune

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Work citied
Wouk, Herman. The Caine Mutiny. New York: Back Bay Books/ Little Brown and Company, 2003.

Command and General Staff College, "Quotes on The Navy". U.S. Army Combined Arms Center. tuesday Nov. 6, 2007 <http://www-cgsc.army.mil/navelm/quotes/navy.asp>.

Antelope Publishing, "Bible Stories From Genesis". Copyright © 1999, Antelope Publishing. Tuesday Nov. 6, 2007 <http://www.antelope-ebooks.com/RELIGIOUS/Gen04.html>.

AdaKing, "The Caine Mutiny (Edward Dmytryk, 1954)". youtube. Tuesday Nov. 6, 2007 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9KlQPX1qiE>.

SuperVCR, "The Caine Mutiny". youtube. Tuesday Nov. 6, 2007 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQJX0Hdpn8Y>.

Powell, "Powell's Books". Tuesday Nov. 6, 2007 <http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780316955102-1>.

Imeem Inc., "Anchors Aweigh by The American Military Band ". Imeem Inc.. Tuesday Nov. 6, 2007 <http://refat.imeem.com/music/nHehTIL3/the_american_military_band_anchors_aweigh/>.