The Marine Excursion of the Knights of Pythias recounts how the Mariposa Belle sinks to the bottom of Lake Wissanotti. Because the lake is shallow, Leacock is “not talking about a steamer sinking in the ocean and carrying down its screaming crowds of people into the hideous depths of green water” (61). Rather, it is a humourous recounting of how a boat sinks in a few feet of water. A shoddy rescue effort makes saving passengers just as ridiculous as the sinking itself.
1. Consider this passage about people’s involvement in small communities:
Perhaps I ought to explain that when I speak of the excursion as being of the Knights of Pythias, the thing must not be understood in any narrow sense. In Mariposa practically everybody belongs to the Knights of Pythias just as they do to everything else. That’s the great thing about the town and that’s what makes it so different from the city. Everybody is in everything. (47)
When people are more involved in their communities, do they have a higher sense of responsibility towards each other? Do they have better understandings of one-another?
2. Explain the process of choosing seats on the Mariposa Belle.
3. How does the literary technique of foreshadowing build up tension in the chapter?
4. What is the fate of the lifeboat sent to rescue the people on the Mariposa Belle?
5. How does Josh Smith get the Mariposa Belle raised from the bottom of the lake?
6. Look at some famous marine disasters. For example, check out the sinking of the Titanic, the Lusitania, or especially the Eastland. What aspects of the sinking of the Mariposa Belle could be applied to those disasters?