Synopses & Reviews
The story of a young man's adventure sailing from Boston, around Cape Horn, to the California coast is a riveting, insightful account of life at sea (and the best surviving account of what it was like in 1834), replete with fascinating historical detail on California before the gold rush. This edition contains a new introduction by Gary Kinder.
About the Author
Gary Kinder is the author of Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea. He lives in Seattle.
Reading Group Guide
1. ?Discuss Dana?s motives for the voyage. What do you feel was the predominating factor in his decision to undertake such a journey? What were the risks involved, and how serious do you feel they were? What is your view of Dana?s momentous choice?
2. ?What do you make of Dana?s attitude toward religion, and religious instruction? Do you agree or not? Why? Is his a perspective that is anachronistic, or not?
3. ?How does social class play a role in the book? Discuss the implications of Dana?s background. How did it affect his experience on the ship? Did you find it important, or inconsequential?
4. ?What is your opinion of the book?s stark realism? Does Dana have an agenda in writing the book? If so, what is it? Do you think the experience was a positive one for Dana, or not?
5. ?What is the role of nature and the outdoors for Dana? How does he view the American West? How does his voyage attest to his view of the outdoors? Does this view change throughout his experience on the ship? If so, how?
6. ?Discuss the contrasts between Captain Thompson and Captain Faucon. How do their leadership skills differ? Who is more effective, and why? Discuss Dana?s book on a political level. What do his portrayals of each captain reveal?
7. ?Discuss the considerable shift in Dana?s perspective as evidenced in ?Twenty-Four Years After.? How do you account for this change? Do you agree or disagree with the author?s decision to replace the original final chapter with this later account? Why or why not?