Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat

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The Boys in the Boat Chapters 6-8 Summary & Analysis

Part Two: Resiliency

Chapter 6 Summary

The freshmen, JV, and varsity teams continue to practice, preparing for a race against their ultimate rival, UC Berkeley, coached by Ulbrickson’s rival, Ky Elbright. Ulbrickson has all three teams race against one another, and is shocked to see that “the freshmen began to pull ahead” (85), almost defeating the varsity team. Yet Bolles, the freshmen coach, struggles with the boys during practice. Joe, whose stroke is “eccentric” (91), is pulled out of the boat for one practice, and the boat slows. Joe is later placed back in the boat, but the experience shows him how “precarious” (91) his position in the boat, and at the University, really is.

Joe does not bond well with his teammates. They make fun of him for always wearing the same sweater and happily eating their leftovers in the cafeteria, but Joe is unwilling to “walk away from perfectly good food” (92) and shuts them out. The freshmen boat continues to improve, beating previous records until it is clear that they are something “exceptional” (93). The day of the big race against Cal Berkeley arrives. It is a home game in Seattle, so Joyce attends the race, resolving to “stay calm no matter what” (96). Joe and the rest of the freshmen rowers square off against the Cal freshmen team. Much is it at stake—if the boys do not win the race, “none of them would have a chance to travel to New York in June” (97) for the Poughkeepsie Regatta, and “race against the best crews in the East for the national championship” (97). The race begins. California takes an early lead, but Washington catches up. The Cal team, having spent their energy too early, falls behind when Washington begins to row with all their strength, Washington wins the race and sets a new freshmen record.

Meanwhile, in Germany, a baby girl is born to Joseph Goebbels and his wife—a child, Brown notes, who will eventually be murdered by her own mother. In Berlin, the old Olympic stadium has been torn down to make room for the new one. Intense…

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