When I was writing my novel Lost on the Prairie I wanted my main character Peter to be inspired by a literary hero. Peter who has been separated on his immigration journey from his parents needs a great deal of courage and determination as he tries to reunite with his family. I thought it would be great if he had a character in a book to look up to as a role model.
My story takes place in 1907 so I needed to choose a book that had been written before that date and I wanted one where the main character was on a journey of some sort. After checking out several possibilities I settled on Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling and in my novel I had Peter’s older brother Herman read the book aloud to him and his younger brother Alvin.
The hero of Captains Courageous is a young boy named Harvey. He is from a very wealthy family and when he falls overboard on an ocean voyage some Portuguese fishermen rescue him. He must serve as a crewman on the fishing boat as it plies the Grand Banks of Newfoundland filling its hold with cod. Harvey makes friends with the ship captain’s son Dan and has all kinds of adventures at sea before he is reunited with his parents.
In my book, Peter refers back to incidents from the novel Captains Courageous many times. Like Harvey Peter almost drowns and is rescued by a man named Arden Little Thunder. Like Harvey, Peter makes good friends with Arden’s son Joe and has all kinds of adventures on the prairie just as Harvey did at sea. Like Harvey, Peter is separated from his parents and must draw on strengths he never knew he had to survive and return to his family.
I hope after finishing my book readers will be inspired to read Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous if they haven’t already done so.
Of course, I have no idea if my grandfather Peter Schmidt who was the inspiration for the main character in my novel ever read Captains Courageous. My mother did tell me however that Grandpa loved to read and he subscribed to quite a number of newspapers and magazines which he read devotedly. I love this photo I have from my aunt that shows my grandfather reading in his home.
Other blog posts about my novel……..