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Two Years Before the Mast Characters

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Richard Henry Dana, Jr.

The author of Two Years before the Mast, Dana signs up for a 2-3 year voyage aboard the commercial brig Pilgrim, hoping to cure his eyes, which have been weakened by reading books as a Harvard undergraduate. He goes aboard trying to look like a seasoned sailor but writing afterward realizes that this comes only with real experience. He also writes from the perspective of having completed his studies and earned a law degree. He frequently offers legal opinions to the readers as asides. He unfailingly writes as a salt only haphazardly remembering that jargon may be foreign to them and slowing to explain words and phrases. For the most part, he leaves readers to learn as he had—by osmosis.

Dana describes the growth curve for himself and fellow first-timer, Ben Stimson, learning to climb the rigging while suffering seasickness but then...

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This section contains 3,446 words
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Buy the Two Years Before the Mast Study Guide
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