The Caine Mutiny


Chapters 35–37

Summary Chapters 35–37

In his closing arguments, Challee argues that Article 184 was misused, for Queeg was not completely and irrefutably insane. Greenwald simply goes over the facts and the inconsistencies in Queeg's testimony, leaving it to the court to decide. The court takes only one hour and ten minutes to acquit Maryk of all charges. Afterward, Keefer has a celebration organized and paid for by the presale of his novel. Greenwald is the guest of honor, and he arrives late. In a speech, Greenwald praises Keefer and his novel, but then lays into Keefer, saying it was the Queegs of the regular Navy who saved Greenwald's grandmother from Hitler. He says he took advantage of the captain's stupidity and the two pompous psychologists to get Maryk acquitted. He says Keefer authored the mutiny and then left his friend out to dry. He leaves, and the party dies off.


Greenwald discredits the testimony of the psychiatrists by focusing on the fuzzy semantics of what it means to be "sick." He forces the second psychiatrist to confirm that Queeg was sick in the way that everyone is sick, and then uses this meaningless label to throw suspicion over the entire psychological investigation. The crucial testimony of Willie Keith also helps Maryk. His testimony is not actually relevant, but it appeals to Naval pride, which abhors a coward. The Navy men on the jury do not like to think that a coward was commanding one of its ships. Greenwald could rely on the jury's automatic dislike of Queeg to help him recreate a situation in which Maryk was justified in relieving Queeg of command. In his examination of Queeg, Greenwald simply makes the captain look stupid, and then Queeg's paranoia does the rest. By the time the lawyer comes to the typhoon, the captain is so rattled he has nearly returned to the panicked state in which he commanded the Caine. Everyone in court begins to realize that there is something wrong with Queeg. The turning point comes when Queeg pulls out the steel balls, his constant security blanket. This odd gesture tells the jury everything it needs to know. Compared to Queeg's unraveling, Maryk's simple, steady testimony, with its correct references to the ship's position and heading, seems like scripture.

Greenwald's interruption of the acquittal party completely changes the direction of the novel. For thirty-six chapters, Willie sails upward through naval life, and we envision the Navy as a provider of the maturation process Willie experiences. Then, at the acquittal party, we learn that the purity Willie sees in the Navy is no more pure than civilian life. Until the party, Willie thinks of himself as playing a righteous and patriotic role on the Caine. At the party, he begins to discover that he was sucked into the scheme of a moody, oversensitive intellectual, a scheme that undercut all that is good about the Navy. Willie was corrupted by his time under Queeg. While testifying, Willie realizes that he based his actions on personal prejudice, not on the safety of the ship.