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» Master & Commander: Where does Stephen Maturin go whilst ashore?
Who killed Capt. Sawyer? EmptySun 01 Nov 2020, 15:25 by a2k

» C S Forester on TV (with Groucho Marx...)
Who killed Capt. Sawyer? EmptyWed 21 Oct 2020, 10:40 by Alaric Bond

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Who killed Capt. Sawyer? EmptySat 17 Oct 2020, 10:42 by Alaric Bond

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Who killed Capt. Sawyer? EmptySat 03 Oct 2020, 03:52 by 80 Winters

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Who killed Capt. Sawyer? EmptySat 29 Aug 2020, 03:34 by 80 Winters

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Who killed Capt. Sawyer? EmptySat 15 Aug 2020, 23:25 by 80 Winters

» Who killed Capt. Sawyer?
Who killed Capt. Sawyer? EmptyWed 22 Jul 2020, 23:14 by tonnant

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Who killed Capt. Sawyer? EmptySun 19 Jul 2020, 18:00 by Litnitwit

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Who killed Capt. Sawyer?

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Who killed Capt. Sawyer? Empty Who killed Capt. Sawyer?

Post by 80 Winters on Tue 01 Aug 2017, 16:36

One of the great 'mysteries' of HNF. From the C.S. Forester Society we have one man's thoughts:


https://csforester.wordpress.com/about/publications/reflections-online/he-did-it-or-he-did-it-not/
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Post by Chromedust on Tue 01 Aug 2017, 18:15

It was deliberately left open. It could have been Hornblower, it could have been the boy, or both and it could have been a true accident.

Since the book was written from Bush's pov, and Hornblower never admits anything beyond the accident scenario and there are no other proofs, we don't know, although I personally find it likely, that Hornblower might have pushed him. But it could also have been panicking and desperate Wellard, no longer caring if that brings him a death sentence, Hornblower witnessing this but covering the boy and only later cutting Sawyer's throat when the occasion arises to prevent him from testifying against the boy in case his state of mind got better later.

But I also totally consider it within Hornblower's personality to do it himself when the occasion arises.

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Post by 80 Winters on Thu 03 Aug 2017, 04:23

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Post by tonnant on Tue 21 Jul 2020, 18:29

Hornblower is asked several times what happened to Sawyer. On each occasion, an "expressionless mask" descends over his face before he answers.

“How did what happen, Mr Bush?” said Hornblower.
“How did the captain fall down the hatchway?”
As soon as he had said the words Bush glanced back over his shoulder in sudden fright lest he should have been overheard. These might be hanging words. When he looked back Hornblower’s face was quite expressionless.
“I think he must have overbalanced,” he said, evenly, looking straight into Bush’s eyes; and then he went on, “If you will excuse me, sir, I have some duties to attend to.”

“By the way, Mr Hornblower,” he said, and Hornblower halted beside the door, “how did the captain come to fall down the hatchway?”
Bush saw the expressionless mask take the place of the eager look on Hornblower’s face. The answer took a moment or two to come.
“I think he must have overbalanced, sir,” said Hornblower, with the utmost respect and a complete absence of feeling in his voice. “The ship was lively that night, you remember, sir.”

“Tell me, Mr Hornblower — this is the last chance — how did the captain come to fall down the hatchway?”
“I am quite unable to tell you, sir,” said Hornblower.
There was no hint whatever to be gleaned from his expressionless face or from the words he used.

We know that Hornblower did not witness an accident - then, he could have simply said so, and described the details of the incident.

If Hornblower had not seen anything, then there would be no need for the "expressionless face". Without Forester's descriptions of Hornblower's expression, the reader could have concluded that there was no foul play, and dismissed the incident.

Could Hornblower have done it himself? Perhaps he was capable of it, but there was no guarantee that staging an accident would have succeeded. Indeed, Sawyer managed to survive the incident - it was only his madness that prevented him using his powers to immediately hang the culprit.

Hornblower could not have risked letting Sawyer survive - if his plan was to push the captain down the hatchway and hoped to either kill him or drive him mad, it was a very poor plan by Hornblower's standards, and unlikely to work. Someone could have witnessed Hornblower performing the act.

Wellard had already been pushed to breaking point by the corporal punishment ordered by the captain, and may have felt he had nothing left to lose. Seeing his one chance to destroy his tormentor, he took it. Hornblower witnessed the incident, and resolved to protect Wellard's secret.

Hornblower was too rational to push him.

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Post by Alaric Bond on Wed 22 Jul 2020, 07:38

That we are still debating would doubtless have pleased Forester greatly!

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Post by tonnant on Wed 22 Jul 2020, 23:14

I'm sure he would be happy - he set up his mystery with great skill. There are many ways that you can argue that Hornblower was the guilty party too Smile

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