58 pages • 1 hour readPatrick O'Brian
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Content Warning: This section of the guide summarizes and analyzes Master and Commander, which contains racist, misogynistic, and anti-gay language.
Jack Aubrey, a sailor in the British Navy, attends a musical performance at the governor’s mansion on the island of Minorca in the year 1800. Aubrey enjoys the music immensely, growing so lost in his appreciation that his hand begins to tap out the rhythm of the song. The man sitting next to him is annoyed, whispering to him that he should not beat the rhythm if his timing is off. Aubrey feels wounded by this remark. He observes that the man sitting next to him is a small man in a dark coat who appears to be a civilian. As the concert continues, Aubrey becomes caught up in the music again and starts to move his hand and hum to the beat. The man beside him elbows him in the ribs to encourage him to stop. The final performance of the concert is a piece on the harp by Mrs. Molly Harte, the wife of the commandant, Captain Harte. Aubrey is so angry by his neighbor’s behavior that he cannot enjoy her performance, and after the music is done, he tells the other man his name and address, implying that it may come to a duel.