Sacred Hunger

Sacred Hunger - Karl Brauer Nic Mink Discussion 307 The...

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Karl Brauer Nic Mink Discussion 307 The Power of Thurso and His Downfall As captain of the Liverpool Merchant in the novel Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth, Captain Saul Thurso ruled with an iron fist. He was intent on creating an orderly, well disciplined, and rigid environment on board his ship and he demanded the utmost respect from all on board. Captain Thurso had complete control of the ship and everyone on it from the moment he took her out of the port, until she returned to it. While on board Thurso’s word and his orders were the law and he controlled the sentencing for those who broke these laws. The discipline of all those on the ship was the result of his use of fear and intimidation of the crew as well as his own prestige as a seaman and as a successful captain. After Thurso was killed, those who set up the new colony did so in stark contrast to the dictatorship Thurso had maintained while he was captain of the Liverpool Merchant . In the colony there was no single authority and no hierarchy; everyone was equal and treated as such, with the respect and the kindness they deserved. All the decisions and even the punishments in the colony were made by the group, not by a singular judge. This practice added to the sense of community which developed among the people and it also insured no fault was laid on any single individual; the decisions were made by the colony and the consequences of those decisions had to be accepted by the colony. Fear was also a factor in maintaining discipline in the community but instead of this fear being of an individual and their punishments, it was the fear of letting down your neighbors. The people were very close to one another and they relied on each other for their survival. No one wanted to act out against others because this action would result in difficulties both for themselves and for their friends and it could have hindered their collective ability to survive.
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The differences between the Thurso’s rule at sea and the true democracy of the community were most evident in how the leadership handled different situations and especially how the punishments were decided upon. Punishments are an inevitable necessity when people come together because these provide the threats necessary to insure everyone follows the rules. On the ship, the punishments were both assigned and administered by the captain himself and they were often more reflective of the captain’s feelings at the time than at the actual severity of the offense. For example, after a favorable meeting with another trading ship, Thurso returns to the Liverpool Merchant to find that two of the crew had run away with two axes and a pistol while under Haines supervision on shore. Unsworth suggests that “Haines knew he had been a fool. He expected a flogging and he felt it was
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Sacred Hunger - Karl Brauer Nic Mink Discussion 307 The...

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