The Young Men and the Sea: Sea/Ocean as a Space of Maturation?
Department of American Literature, University of Lodz
The sea (or ocean) in American literature and culture is marked by a distinctive ambiguity. On the one hand, and quite expectedly, the sea voyage can be a maturation experience: such is the case of Humphrey Van Weyden, the protagonist of London’s The Sea Wolf; such is also the interpretation that the Disney Company chooses to present in its animated adaptation of R.L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island. However, it is also a space of the opposite experience: one that accommodates remarkably immature characters. Be it in the person of captain Delano in Melville’s ‘Benito Cereno’, or the eponymous Billy Budd, it is a site welcoming naïve and escapist heroes, those who do not want to or cannot adapt to the demands of land society.
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