06 August 2009

The Fray Mutiny

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The Fray Mutiny
by Schmutzie
08/06/2009, 11:03 AM #

What a vile creature. What a snake in the grass, that Lt. Tom Keefer.

Always there, but hiding from plain sight. Lurking in the shadows, afraid of the light of day.

Lt. Tom Keefer's behind the scenes meddling was the source of much misery in Herman Wouk's book, The Caine Mutiny. Misery for Capt. Queeg, and misery for those who fell for his mind games. Many thought Keefer was looking out for the good of the Caine, and considered his advice when he urged them to relieve Queeg of command. Keefer called Queeg a "textbook paranoid" after Queeg ordered a top to bottom search of the vessel to locate what he was sure were some missing strawberries.

Initially they were reluctant, but when confronted by a terrible storm, Lt Stephen Maryk and Willie Kieth (the first person narrator in the book) finally acted on Keefer's advice, and siezed control of the Caine. They were charged with mutiny.

At the trial, Keefer testifies that he had no role in the "mutiny" and implies that he tried to talk Keith and Maryk out of taking over the ship. A classic coward captured beautifully by Wouk.

Only at the end, and grudgingly, does the lawyer Lt Barney Greenwald trash the career of Queeg in order to protect his client Maryk. He breaks him down on the stand until the only thing left were 3 stainless steel ball bearings. Greenwald feels much guilt for breaking a lifetime naval officer, but he had to protect his client.

In the book, Greenwald shows up at Maryk's celebration party, drunk. He unloads on Keefer in front of everyone, telling them of Keefer's about-face on the stand. He then throws yellow wine in Keefer's face (the symbolism a reference to Queeg's nickname Old Yellowstain) and calls Keefer the "true author of the Caine Mutiny." (In the movie, Jose Ferrer as Greenwald throws what looks to be a martini.)

You just knew it had to happen. It was only a matter of time, and the only question was "When?"

Well now it's all out there isn't it?

The martini has been thrown in Keefer's face so many times here that I'm surprised Tom can even see.

This would be a good time to exit the stage Tom. There is no smoothing over this one. You have been exposed by one of your former shipmates. The disgrace is total, and if you have any dignity left you'll pack it in your seabag and head for shore.

You are the true Yellowstain.


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