Jack Ryan is a former Marine, crippled in service. He endured years of recuperation. War is still in his blood, but he now tries to understand it. This knowledge, however, is practical. Soon duty & urgency again threaten to kill him. When he gets into trouble, he curses to himself: Jack, next time you get a bright idea just put it in a memo! – Hence the story of this extraordinary Russian captain & the successful hunt of the Red October.
The captain eventually has to kill his most promising student, whose selfishness he notes drily. Nothing is said of his ideology; his crew hates him. This hunter’s self-destruction suggests passion is an indifferent substitute for excellence. But the massive Soviet fleet & their coordinate maneuvers also fail in the hunt. Perhaps the Soviets should have considered whether a great warrior’s loyalty is created by slavery. This captain should never have been given this ship. Typical of slaves, the Soviets think the secret police can control the military.
The right hand tells his captain he’d like to live in Montana, travel through the states, & winter in Arizona. These are cowboy references. The captain himself compares an American submarine captain to a cowboy upon first seeing him. – Man in his soul yearns to be himself by himself. – He also worries that the captain he might meet would be a buckaroo.
The captain says he planned treason when the new submarine was planned. He apparently bets on American self-interest: Rather than sink him, Americans would save his submarine for the technology. He does not suggest they would want him. In America, he wants to go fishing. He thinks Americans less dangerous than the Soviets. – He knows the crew would not consider their self-interest: They love Russia. He says Cortez motivated his people well by burning his ships upon arriving in the New World. But he assures his crew’s safety, again showing nobility. They will not become Americans, except the officers. Unlike his right hand, who loves women & rabbits, he says he himself has no such appetites.
An old man, the pride of the Russian fleet & a teacher of captains, this is the end he chooses for his career. The submarine doctor, a Soviet ideologue, thinking the captain will scuttle the boat, promises him the Order of Lenin. He cannot understand men. On the maiden voyage of the Red October, the captain tells his officers: We sail into history! This is ironic. Technicians & admirals help Ryan catch the Red October, but they cannot understand the captain either. Ryan says he knows him, by one conversation & much study. Therefore, he assumes everything the captain does is done for a reason…