5

At the end of My Side of the Mountain, Sam apparently wants to head out to sea:

As we approached the hemlock grove, I noticed that Dad was carrying a pack. He explained it as food for the first few days, or until I could teach John, Jim, Hank, and Jake how to live off the land. I winked at him.
"But, Dad, a Gribley is not for the land."
"What do you mean?" he shouted. "The Gribleys have had land for three generations. We pioneer, we open the land." He was almost singing.
"And then we go to sea," I said.
"Things have changed. Child labor laws; you can't take children to sea."

However, do we see any indication that he wanted to go to sea? He had seemed pretty happy where he was.

Is there any indication in the rest of the novel that he wanted to go to sea?

1

No, there wasn't; Sam had no wish to go to sea. Sam is referencing what his father said earlier in the book (pgs 8 and 9 in my copy):

Dad didn't like the land. He liked the sea, wet and big and endless.
Sometimes he would tell me about Great-grandfather Gribley, who owned land in the Catskill Mountains and felled the trees and built a home and plowed the land - only to discover that he wanted to be a sailor. The farm failed, and Great-grandfather Gribley went to sea.
As I lay with my face buried in the sweet greasy smell of my deerskin, I could hear Dad's voice saying, "That land is still in the family's name. Somewhere in the Catskills is an old beech with the name Gribley carved on it. It marks the northern boundary of Gribley's folly - the land is no place for a Gribley."
"The land is no place for a Gribley," I said. "The land is no place for a Gribley, and here I am three hundred feet from the beech with Gribley carved on it."

Now at the end, his dad is saying

"The Gribleys have had land for three generations. We pioneer, we open the land." He was almost singing. "And then we go to sea," I said. "Things have changed. Child labor laws; you can't take children to sea."

Also notice that Sam winks:

I winked at him. "But, Dad, a Gribley is not for the land."

A sure sign that Sam is joking.

-1

This is not Sam making a statement about himself and his personal desires. He is referencing his family history where both his father and grandfather went to sea. If he chooses to follow this pattern he would go to sea too, but as you say, throughout the novel he prefers the land, and this one line at the end does not indicate a change of heart. The conversation is one where he is gently throwing his father's words back to him to see what the reaction will be.

3
  • Answers on this site should be based on evidence and arguments.
    – user111
    Jul 2 '17 at 14:25
  • @Hamlet Evidence: the family history is mentioned in the first chapter, the conversation in the final chapter is lightly bantering with Sam repeating his father's words back to him. Argument: absent any evidence elsewhere in the novel, this should be read as a conversation about family history and not Sam's personal preference. How does this not fit the site's guidelines?
    – Mike
    Jul 2 '17 at 14:31
  • Can you please add some explanation of why you think that this is the case? Preferably with some support from the text? I also seem to remember that he was disappointed after hearing this (although I could be wrong, I don't have it on hand now), which would indicate that he was serious about heading to sea.
    – Mithical
    Jul 2 '17 at 15:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.