The True Confessions Of Charlotte Doyle Summary


The True Confessions Of Charlotte Doyle

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The True Confessions Of Charlotte Doyle Summary

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The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is a historical novel written by Avi, and published in 1990. It’s the story of the eponymous character, Charlotte, as she evolves from a naive upper-class girl into a young woman who is knowledgeable about the world and life on a ship.

The story opens with Charlotte, a wealthy thirteen-year-old, traveling across the sea from England to her family’s new home in Rhode Island. She finds herself alone and the only female aboard the ship when two families traveling with her do not show up. She has reservations about the ship, but her guardian persuades her to go.

On the first day, she meets a sailor named Zachariah who gives her a dirk for protection. He tells her stories of the captain, including what he did to one sailor’s arm for not being able to tie a knot correctly. She doesn’t believe him though, and so she and the captain become very close. He tells her that if she sees anything suspicious, she should tell him immediately.

One day, when she goes to retrieve something for one of the sailors, she finds a pistol. She discovers that the crew is planning to mutiny and overthrow the captain. She wrestles with whether or not she should tell the captain but eventually decides to do so. The captain shoots the sailor whose arm he destroyed for being unable to tie a knot and whips Zachariah. Charlotte feels bad about her role in revealing the plot, and she tries to grab the whip. She accidentally hits the captain in the face, and for that, he beats Zachariah until he dies.

Charlotte feels compelled to take Zachariah’s place as a sailor, and the others allow her to join them when she proves she can climb to the highest mast. When she comes down, she finds Captain Jaggery there and tells him that she is joining the crew. He becomes angry and strikes her across the face. She vows to reveal his cruelty when they come to shore.

The ship enters a powerful hurricane and Charlotte falls from the ratlines. Someone saves her, and she believes it is Zachariah, even though she knows he is dead. She climbs back down and finds the first mate stabbed to death with the dirk Zachariah gave her. The captain tries her, and conveniently finds her guilty. He threatens to hang her unless she takes her proper place as a lady once more.

She finds out that Zachariah is still alive and was the one who saved her. He’d been living in the ship’s jail along with another man named Keetch. He helps her to escape and prevents her from stealing the captain’s guns and overthrowing him as she had planned.Zachariah reveals that he killed the first mate but assures her that it was necessary. She has three choices:she can take the muskets and disrespect her family;she can become a proper lady again;she can be hanged.

Charlotte refuses to make a choice and escapes the captain. He attempts to kill her but falls to his death while chasing her. The crew decides to name her Captain since the old Captain is dead, and she serves as a figurehead for the crew. Zachariah takes over as acting captain on her insistence.

Charlotte dons her proper attire when the ship docks. She tries to keep the events of the voyage from her family, but her father reads her journal and is furious. He believes she deliberately slandered the captain, and that she will require re-education. Instead of staying with her family, she escapes one night and joins up with Zachariah and the crew of the ship.

The biggest and most moving theme of the novel is that of transformation. When we first meet Charlotte, she is a naive young girl who knows little of the world. She is wealthy and has attended a private school that gave her a narrow view of life. By the end of the book, she is a confident “captain” of a ship. She was able to reorganize her thinking and come to conclusions that she would never have made if she hadn’t traveled by herself on the ship.

She meets Zachariah, a black man who never spent any time in the US and as such was free. He was respected by the rest of the crew, but he was still ostracized because of his skin color. Charlotte develops a close relationship with him despite her preconceived notions, and their relationship ultimately saves her life.

The Captain is someone who seems worthy of respect but turns out to be a cruel man. Appearances can be deceiving, and just because someone is in a position of authority, it doesn’t mean that he is a good person. The captain is a tyrant, and Charlotte is up against a system that ensures that she can’t win.

The novel was well received at its release. Its story reminds us that people are never what they seem, and even someone who seems naive and weak can rise above circumstances to come into power and acceptance.