The Caine Mutiny: Top Ten Quotes

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Total Votes: 150
  1. Willis Seward Keith stepped out of the sunshine across the threshold. It was done as easily and noiselessly as Alice's stepping through the looking glass; and like Alice, Willie Keith passed into a new and exceedingly strange world. (p. 3)
    The narrator offers this comment about Willie as he first enters the Furnald Hall and the Navy.
  2. "If you want to know, what I've studied seems to me a lot of rubbish. The rules, the lingo, strike me as comical. The idea of men spending their lives in this make-believe appalls me." (p. 49)
    Willie makes this remark to his father, when his father visits him at midshipmen school.
  3. "It seems to me that you're very much like our whole country-young, naive, spoiled, and softened by abundance and good luck, but with an interior hardness that comes from your sound stock." (p. 64)
    Dr. Keith offers this observation in his letter to Willie.
  4. "The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. If you're not an idiot, but find yourself in the Navy, you can only operate well by pretending to be one." (p. 105)
    Tom Keefer offers this comment to Willie as the Caine heads to sea for minesweeping exercises.
  5. "War is a business in which a lot of people watch a few people get killed and are damn glad it wasn't them." (p. 263)
    Tom Keefer offers this remark to Willie as they discuss how the men of the Caine sat in relative luxury as the Marines fought and died on the beach, a few hundred yards away.
  6. '"I'll tell you this, the same things seem goddamn different in the middle of a typhoon when they're happening, and six thousand miles away in the Federal Office Building when you're talking about them-'" (p. 382)
    Maryk speaks to Greenwald, his lawyer, as they first discuss the case.
  7. "Queeg deserved better at my hands." (p. 483)
    Barney Greenwald makes this statement at Keefer's victory dinner, revealing his shame at having destroyed Queeg's character in the court-martial.
  8. "See Willie, there is one lousy thing about having brains. Makes me worse off than Queeg. He could swallow all his own feeble self-protecting lies because he was a stupid man. But I can analyze. I'm imprisoned forever by the fact that I jumped." (p. 499)
    Tom Keefer says this to Willie following his abandonment of the Caine during the kamikaze incident.
  9. "Everybody's life pivots on one or maybe two moments." (p. 501)
    Tom Keefer offers this observation to Willie after the kamikaze incident.
  10. "Every hour spent on the Caine was a great hour in all our lives-if you don't think so now you will later on, more and more." (p. 526)
    Willie makes this statement as part of his speech at the Caine's decommissioning ceremony.

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