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The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship
Transcript of The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship
written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Analysis by Abbey Cockrall
"... and he continued guiding the ship with the lantern until he was so sure of its obedience that he made it change course from the direction of the docks once more, took it out of the invisible channel, and led it by the halter as if it were a sea lamb toward the lights of the sleeping village... " The personification in this quotation gives the ship human qualities which adds both to the magical realism and the confidence that boy has. The ship itself cannot follow the boy but the magical realism makes it possible without questioning how it can. The effect that this adds into the story is that the ship is alive, which is a vital focal point in the theme of this story.
"... groping its way like a sleep‐walker for the buoys
that marked the harbor channel..." The simile here also gives the reader an idea of how the ship moves, which is also an important image, especially with what the author compares the ship to. A sleep-walker is unknown of where they are and aren't conscious of what they are doing. The ship is also like this, it has no light or sound and it crashes each year, it doesn't try to change direction. It wasn't until a second party intervened that the ship moved out of the way.
The whole story is written as one big sentence, which makes a lot of sense. The story has one main focus and the focus never breaks off and it doesn't have much else to cover other than the boy and the ship. The entire story is set in one place and has very few people in it that the author specifically adds in. The story is harder to comprehend on the eye, but psychologically, it makes sense. The story makes one big statement, so it is actually a better idea to prolong it into one sentence.
The Ghost Ship: The ghost ship is a symbol because it represents haunted beings. The story's main focus is people being haunted or attached to something that ends up driving them to their doom. Based on this focus, it's assumable that the ghost ship had crashed without notice, no one being informed or aware. The souls on the ship probably are distraught with knowing that their death wasn't seen by anyone, leaving behind no trace. It isn't until the city sees that the ship finally has its final resting place. A good example of why this is likely true is this quotation: "... even the wandering hairs of victims of drowning in some colonial shipwreck, no trace of sunken liners of anything like it..." This makes it sound either frequent that this kind of thing happens, or it is the hair from the victims of the ghost ship.
Tone: Confident; this is because he is firm in his belief throughout the entire story, see below for more details.
The tone of the story is through the boy, who is confident that the ghost ship is there - even though no one else sees it, "... but those who ran into the street didn't make the effort to see the unlikely apparatus which at that instant was lost again in the east and raised up in its annual disaster, but they covered him with blows and left him so twisted that it was then he said to himself, drooling with rage, now they're going to see who I am, but he took care not to share his determination with anyone, but spent the whole year with the fixed idea, now they're going to see who I am..." (Marquez) He tries to get the town to see the ship and when no one sees it, they beat him up for saying something they believe to not be true. Instead of giving up on the ship, he fixated on it to make them believe. It's no longer something that he just wants to point out, he has become so filled with rage over what happened that he must prove himself as a man and not a little boy telling lies. Another tone is him slowly going insane. He gets so intense about proving himself right that he no longer cares about anything else, "... but so absorbed in his adventure that he didn't stop as he always did in front of the Hindu shops to look at the ivory mandarins carved from the whole tusk of an elephant, nor did he make fun of the Dutch Negroes in their orthopedic velocipedes, nor was he frightened as at other times of the copper‐skinned Malayans..." When he was younger he would find interest in these things and be more aware of the world but because no one believed him and everyone shot him down when he came to them with the idea of the Ghost Ship, he stopped caring about everything around him and focused his life into proving himself right. He had so much attachment to this ship that he gave up himself for it.
The Chair: The chair that the mother had is a symbol because it represents the rotting of someone who is can't let go. People who are haunted and deeply attached to something they can't have makes them rot. They get to focused on the thing and so obsessed they lose who they are in it. The chair symbolizes this because the people who sit in this chair die. The chair is haunted with the history of death and it rots those who are also mourning or haunted.
A magical element consistently seen in the story is the ghost ship itself. "... the huge ocean liner without lights and without any sound..." The sightings are seen at night which would have already been hard to see something, but with the magical elements of the ship having no light or sound, it would have been quite difficult to see it. When the lighthouse shines its light on it, the ghost ship isn't there. The ghost ship cannot possibly be there but it is, and the boy assumes it's just a dream at first but the next time he sees it he believes it as fact, even if he doesn't have any proof for it.
The chair is also another magical element because a chair cannot kill people. However, the chair is haunted (as said before) and it kills people through someone sitting and mourning in it. This obviously isn't possible but in the story it isn't questioned and is then thrown into the ocean after it kills the main character's mother. Although, the chair is blamed for doing this, when really it lies on the people who let the things that they were obsessed with rule their lives.
Theme: Obsession leads to the death of a part of one's self.
Throughout the story, the main character becomes more and more obsessed over the ghost ship. The initial obsession begins with the disbelief from his mother, "... he ran to tell his mother and she spent three weeks moaning with disappointment, because your brain's rotting away from doing so many things backward..." This sent him to prove he was right. However, he also comes from a background that already has this obsessive nature, "... oh, my poor Olofernos, if you could only see how nice it is to think about you on this velvet lining and this brocade from the casket of a queen..." The mother is mourning and obsessing over her husband's death and this obsession ends up leading to the neglect of her child and also her death. He has a lot of exposure to this behavior already but what truly spikes his obsession with the ghost ship is when he tries to show the town the ship, "... they covered him with blows and left him so twisted that it was then he said to himself, drooling with rage, now they're going to see who I am..." The physical abuse sends him spiraling into the obsession, him waiting the entire year for the ghost ship, and them him ignoring everything about his life he loved and even stealing a boat just to show them this. This is no longer a "Hey I want to show you this" to a "I'm throwing this in your face because you didn't believe me, you stupid butt faces." Once the ship finally wrecks, the ship name is seen and shows "Halalcsillag" which translates to Death Star. This is important because it's the final punch at the boy losing himself in this ship. He finally has shown everyone this ship, but he built himself up on this ship that is no longer there. With the fall of the ship, it's basically the fall of him because he is left with nothing.
This person is confident enough to do these kinds of tricks.