Study Guide

Herman Wouk Writing Styles in The Caine Mutiny

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Narration

Wouk's narrative technique is perhaps the most interesting yet problematic aspect of the novel. There is evidence of almost every form of narration, although it remains third-person omniscient. It is full of overt fictional references as well as subtle allusions, especially to the classic American novel Moby-Dick. The constant reference to other works of fiction and near mimicry of famous tales makes the novel a self-conscious work.

The narration can also be suspected of being unreliable. Most commentators dismiss Barney's spin on events aboard the ship. However, if Barney's speech is accepted, then the entire narration is suspect of duplicity. This possibility makes the work even richer in its thematic import.

Realism

Wouk considered himself a realist, like authors such as Theodore Dreiser and W. D. Howells who attempted objective positions, realistic descriptions, and accurate observation of human behavior. Realist writing is bereft of philosophy, judgment, or propaganda...

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This section contains 413 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Caine Mutiny from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.