98 - Final Harbor Question 1

1

Final Harbor had a very definite ending. Did you expect it? How did you feel about it? Was there enough foreshadowing? Too much?

Comments

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    Without having seen the other questions, I think "tropes" is something we'll come back to several times in the discussion.

    The trope in most of these war stories is that the viewpoint characters will struggle through many dangerous and daring encounters, but plot immunity will see them through. The destruction of the submarine, and the death of everyone aboard, was definitely against that trope, even if it's something that was consistent with what happens in war.

    I don't think the event was "foreshadowed" any more than usual in a war story. It was unusual that the author followed through with that threatened event.

  • 0

    Another book which ends in a similar way is HMS Ulysses by Alistair Maclean - indeed, it was his debut novel in 1955. Final Harbor reminded me a lot of that book except that it covered a much longer timespan. HMS Ulysses covers (so far as I recall, and it's a long time since I read it) only events in one specific convoy bound for the northern ports of the Soviet Union, plus some incidental background for the main characters, whereas Final Harbor covers more history.

    Did I expect it? Not sure, really - the comparisons with HMS Ulysses did occur to me, so I began to wonder how it would end. And there wasn't any other obvious destination point given that a lot of the Pacific war was still ahead. But I didn't spot any specific pointers that might have signalled it.

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    @RichardAbbott said:
    Another book which ends in a similar way is HMS Ulysses by Alistair Maclean - indeed, it was his debut novel in 1955. Final Harbor reminded me a lot of that book except that it covered a much longer timespan. HMS Ulysses covers (so far as I recall, and it's a long time since I read it) only events in one specific convoy bound for the northern ports of the Soviet Union, plus some incidental background for the main characters, whereas Final Harbor covers more history.

    Did I expect it? Not sure, really - the comparisons with HMS Ulysses did occur to me, so I began to wonder how it would end. And there wasn't any other obvious destination point given that a lot of the Pacific war was still ahead. But I didn't spot any specific pointers that might have signalled it.

    Ah! I had forgotten about HMS Ulysses! I was a huge MacLean fan in high school, but haven't read any of his books in decades! HMS Ulysses was one of my favorites!

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    I was expecting this to the the first in a series about this sub and these heroes, so not expected here. Also, American novels and films tend to shy away from this kind of ending, so doubly not expected. Nice to be surprised, though.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    I was expecting this to the the first in a series about this sub and these heroes, so not expected here. Also, American novels and films tend to shy away from this kind of ending, so doubly not expected. Nice to be surprised, though.

    I was expecting the same thing, and was very surprised.

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    Yes, I was surprised that the other sub didn't find him in the drink afterward, though it seemed unlikely. It was kind of a random death. I liked it for that, actually. But it did seem an odd choice given the general tone of the book. I felt like there were almost two authors: 1) the gritty war-is-hell author who kills off characters in a naturalistic and reasonable way given the fact they are at war and 2) the heroic war fiction author that paints characters in black and white, the "white" ones being good lovers, fighters, witty, etc. and the bad ones being morally bankrupt wife beaters, hotheads, and flawed engineers. It's kind of hard to reconcile those two things. Author #1 wouldn't surprise me at all with that ending, but Author #2 did.

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    Huh. The wife-beater was apparently trying to turn his life around at the end. He seemed to have learned his lessons and was functioning well as Exec. We don't know about his private life at the end, except that his wife divorced him and he was living in the bachelor officers quarters, but he seemed at the least to have rectified his shortcomings as an officer. Maybe the divorce and the shock to the gonads woke him up. Hinman was a practical joker, and his men didn't appreciate that. Two of them had a conversation ripping him for putting a rubber spider in Nate Cohen's bunk. In any case, I didn't see anyone portrayed as a paragon of good or evil except for perhaps Dusty Rhodes, the Chief of the Boat with the Hawaiian wife, and he seemed to have come to that position only lately, having learned from experiences.

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    @Ray_Otus said:
    Yes, I was surprised that the other sub didn't find him in the drink afterward, though it seemed unlikely. It was kind of a random death. I liked it for that, actually. But it did seem an odd choice given the general tone of the book. I felt like there were almost two authors: 1) the gritty war-is-hell author who kills off characters in a naturalistic and reasonable way given the fact they are at war and 2) the heroic war fiction author that paints characters in black and white, the "white" ones being good lovers, fighters, witty, etc. and the bad ones being morally bankrupt wife beaters, hotheads, and flawed engineers. It's kind of hard to reconcile those two things. Author #1 wouldn't surprise me at all with that ending, but Author #2 did.

    The two authors / two tones point is a good one. I was thinking of it more as a split between characters and world: simple, square-jawed, heroic characters, but placed in a messy and dangerous world.

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