The African Queen
- Author: C.S. Forester
- Title: The African Queen
- Published: 1935
- Trivia: Book is on The Guardian List 1000 books
- Trivia #20BooksOfSummer List
- Trivia: 1951 H. Bogart won Best Actor Oscar
- K. Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress
1. Explain the title. In what way is it suitable to the story?
a. Name of gin-swilling Charlie Allnutt’s steamboat that ferries supplies to villages in Africa.
2. Where does the primary action take place?
a. September 1914 in German East Africa
3. How does the story get started? What is the initial incident?
a. German troops burn down Rev Sam Sayer’s mission and he dies.
b. His sister Rose Sayer leaves by the only available transport:
c. the dilapidated river steamboat ‘African Queen’ of grumpy Charlie Allnutt
d. Rose is determined to do her bit for the British war effort.
e. She suggests that Charlie construct their
f. own torpedo and launch it with the converted steamboat.
4. Who are the main characters?
a. Charlie: free-spirited libertine; drunk; loner.
b. Rose: well-educated, snobbish; head-strong; bossy; devout tea-teetotaller
5.What is the conflict that confronts the leading character(s)?
a. external – adventure: attempt to outfox WWI Forces and sink the warship Louisa
b. internal – romance: Rose and Charlie confront their feelings for each other
6. How is the conflict resolved?
7. Does this story create any special mood?
a. Setting: the lush jungle green landscape which surrounds the Rose and Charlie is the novel’s most iconic image. Charlie and Rose pulling the celebrated “African Queen” through the twisted, overwhelming jungle vines of the Ulanga River.
b. Action: I was mesmerized by Forester’s telling of the perilous descent through the raging rapids, swirling colors of the water, green and at times black, ripples of current warning of a hidden obstacle in the water. The rising action leading to the ultimate climax shooting a torpedo from a rickety old boat aimed at the Louisa was riveting….even though I knew what was going to happen!
8. How do the main characters change?
a. Charlie free-spirited libertine, drunk and a loner…not avid for responsibility (ch 2).
b. Change: Simplistic
c. Charlie had a fierce recklessness and a flame of fanatical patriotism. (ch 13)
d. Rose: well-educated, snobbish, head-strong, bossy, devout tea-teetotaller.
e. She would not allow herself to show weakness.
f. She shut her mouth like a trap into its usual hardline. (ch 2)
g. Change: Complex, psychological
h. Rose comes to terms with her Victorian religious rigidity.
i. She had sinned, lain with a man and enjoyed it.
j. Rose and Charlie were man and wife even if the did not conform to rites and regulations.
k. Her bowed figure in the starlight […] there was no trace of the iron-nerved woman now.
l. In the weeping figure who asked God for forgiveness of her neglect. (ch 13)
- This book was made into a movie in 1951.
- It was my mother’s all-time favorite.
- We watched it together a zillion times.
- I know the story by heart!
- Now I thought it would be interesting to read the book.
- Just for old times sake….
- Strong point: is the combination of two narratives:
- Romance: how this odd couple finally fall in love.
- Adventure: journey down the unpredictable river to sink a German warship
- Strong point: the book was able to spark my imagination.
- Mud, stench of decaying marshes, clouds of blood hungry insects,
- the whining of mosquitoes…I could go on and on.
- Ulanga River with raging rapids , swamps and leeches!
- I dreaded reading about the scores of leeches clinging to Allnutt’s skin.
- The images in the movie still make me shiver.
- But in the book the scene took no more than 3 paragraphs on one page!
- I gave a sigh of relief.
- Strong point: Forester reveals how much
- Rose’s Victorian religious upbringing influenced her life.
- I didn’t notice this at all in Hepburn’s role in the movie.
- This book surpassed all my expectations.
- The book was just as good as the movie!
- I enjoyed it more than a few Pulitzer and Nobel prize winners!
- If you have not read this book…put it on your TBR list!
- If you have not seen the movie….don’t delay, it is truly a classic!
- The African Queen is rollocking good
- …adventure story of tackling insurmountable odds.
- #MustListen – 6 hr 24 minutes narrated by Michael Kitchen.