Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat

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  • Features 19 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by an academic writing expert from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts
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The Boys in the Boat Chapters 13-15 Summary & Analysis

Part Four: Touching the Divine

Chapter 13 Summary

In January, Ulbrickson posts the team lists, and Joe is surprised and overjoyed to find his name on the number one varsity boat. By late February, Ulbrickson starts to “form solid ideas about what a first varsity boat—a boat for Berlin—would look like” (231). This boat will include Bobby Moch, a smart, older coxswain—the boy who directs and steers the boat and his other teammates.

Following Thula’s death, Joe and Joyce play parents to Thula’s traumatized children, and as his family life improves, Joe finds himself opening up to his teammates and beginning to count on them. Though temporarily demoted to the third boat, Joe eventually returns the first boat and throws himself into rowing. Pocock builds the varsity a new boat, which he christens the Husky Clipper. “Every time they climbed into the Husky Clipper together, just seemed to get better” (241). Still, before they reach Berlin, the team must win the Pacific Coast Regatta in Seattle, then the Poughkeepsie Regatta, and finally, a race at Princeton in July.

At the Pacific Regatta, the team to beat is, once again, Cal Berkeley. Both varsity teams are exceptional, so it will “come down to watermanship, and guts” (247). The race starts with Cal in the lead, but then Bobby Moch ups the stroke rate and Washington takes the lead, wins, and sets a new course record.

Chapter 14 Summary

In Germany, Adolf Hitler sends troops into a demilitarized zone, and waits to see what the other Western powers will do. They do absolutely nothing, showing Hitler “the feeble resolve of the powers to his west” (252). He is aware that it will be harder for leaders to convince their people to fight against a strong,  civilized power, and sees the Olympics as a much-needed “PR win” (252). Meanwhile, Leni Riefenstahl is hard at work on her film about the Olympics, Olympia, which is a “political and ideological production” (253). Racial tensions are high in America after the German Max Schmeling defeats American heavyweight champion Joe Louis in boxing, with men in Harlem weeping in…

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