I have read the book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ by Arthur Ransome. It is a children’s adventure story in the period between the two world wars featuring the Walker and Blackett children, their families, and other inhabitants of the area around the Lake District in the northeast of England. A children’s camping and sailing story, it grasps the mind of the readers firmly although it is not fantasy and has a background of reality, through the interesting leisure activities and fascinating plot.
The story begins with four Walkers, John, Susan, Titty and Roger, who are on holiday, borrowing a dinghy called the Swallow and going camping on a lake island, which they name ‘Wild Cat Island.’ But they are soon challenged by the Blackett girls Nancy and Peggy (real names Ruth and Margaret), on the boat Amazon, who claim ownership to the island. After a short quarrel, they decide to form an alliance against the unfriendly houseboat man and ex-pirate, Captain Flint (in reality, James Turner) who is also the Amazons’ uncle. After a brief battle to decide the flagship, they attack Captain Flint and claim victory. Captain Flint becomes friendly again and the younger Swallows help Mr. Turner find his stolen treasure. The story ends with the departure of the Swallows back home.
The part I found most interesting in this book is Titty, the third of the Walkers and able-seaman, staying alone in the island for the night while the others went on an expedition and capturing the Amazon. First, I was very impressed at her choice to guard the island. Most people, especially children, do not like being left alone and would have normally chosen to be in the thick of the action with the others going up the Amazon River, but such was her love of the island that she wanted to guard it in the dark. She also imagined herself as Robinson Crusoe stranded on a desert island but in the opposite of what the real Robinson Crusoe thinks in the book, she thought that he ought to have wished to stay on it forever. I was totally captured by her imaginativeness and love of nature.
Secondly, although she was fooled unawares by the Amazons, she did not lose her head but stayed calm and in a superb action of dynamic circulation of mind, succeeded in capturing the Amazon by counter-using their plan and finally won victory for the Swallows, whom, had it not been for her, would have lost the battle. The art of keeping a cool head in an emergency is one of the most important virtues of life and I admire her very much for that. This talent is something I have always lacked, not that I ever found myself in a real emergency, and I must try to raise the ability of calm and dynamic thinking to overturn my inferior situation.
In reading this whole book, I found the character that resembles me most Roger, the youngest of the Swallows. He is still a young boy of seven and unlike the others, who are quite mature for their young ages, has childish characters such as fearing the dark although he tries to fill in with his older siblings as adventurous youths. I have wondered when I would become all that brave and fearless like my father and other male adults. I have come to a conclusion that I must try to make change within myself, not only think that I deserve change for nothing. Roger took part in all the adventures and in the end, I might say that he achieved quite an improvement in his level of maturity through his adventures by participating and trying to really enjoy them, abandoning his traces of childishness. I hope that I will have a chance soon to grow up from the inside, which I shall embrace with open arms.
I think what this book is trying to tell readers is that the flow of life, however seemingly rough and irregular, always has a constantness about it and that if you will something a lot and try hard, everything shall end well through the victory of the Swallows against the Amazons, the allied children triumphing above Captain Flint, everybody becoming friends, and everything resolving itself well. This, I think, can be applied in the same way with personal relationships. I have seen the Swallows and the Amazons finally become friends, and Mr. Turner making it up again with his nieces. It is the same in my daily life: I have a little crack in my relations with my parents due to my misbehaviors, but we always find back our good relationships.
Reading this book will have effects on my future life. It has helped me to try to become a more mature person and to have more hope in things, but not to ask for good things without trying. This was also quite a new kind of book to me. Up to now, I had not yet read a ‘realistic’ adventure story like this book. Also, the subjects of camping and sailing were quite new to me and I had difficulties understanding the specific vocabulary about tents and boats. But this experience of reading Swallows and Amazons, I believe, will help me very much in reading other books about similar topics. I enjoyed very much this book and would like to read the later books in the series also.
*I wrote this book report in January 2009 after having read the book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ by Arthur Ransome (1930).