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The Powerful Faith of the Simple

I was watching the movie Captains Courageous with my bride last night, the 1937 film based on Kipling’s novel of the same name.  I was struck by the performance of Spencer Tracy as Manuel Fidello, for which he won an Oscar, the happy go lucky Portuguese fisherman who rescues a spoiled rich kid from the sea, Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew), and who helps put his feet on the path to becoming a good man.  Not a learned man, he has a deep faith as symbolized by the crucifix he wears around his neck and this bit of dialogue from the movie:

 

 

Harvey:  Has your father been dead a long time?
Manuel:  Six year, next month. Seem a long, long time.
Harvey:  How did he die?
Manuel:  He drown off Cape Sable in storm. Wave come at night and wash him overboard.
Harvey:  Didn’t they find him?
Manuel:  No.
Harvey:  Oh, l’m sorry.
Manuel:  What you sorry about?
Harvey:  Well, l mean your father. They didn’t find him.
Manuel:  What they need find him for? He all right.
Harvey:  Well, but, drowning out in the ocean, all alone at night….
Manuel:  Well, what’s trouble about that? That fine way. The Savior, he take my father up to fisherman’s heaven… up with all his old friends. Quick he take him up. Quick. Just like l pull up this 35-pound fish. The Savior, He see my father all tired and wet down there in the water. So he light the harbor buoy and he say: ”Come on up, old Manuel… ”l so happy you come up here to help us fish.” And my father, he say, ”Thank you. ”l very happy to come up, too. And maybe l show you something about fishing up here, huh?” And then they all laugh. And the Savior, He put his arm around my father… and He give him brand-new dory to fish in.
Harvey:  You think they really fish in heaven?
Manuel:  Why, sure they fish in heaven. What else they do? The Apostles, they all fishermen, l think. You remember that Simon, called Peter? Remember that time when… he don’t catch no fish in the sea of Galilee? And the Savior, He stand on the shore and He say: ”Simon, you throw your net on the right side.” And Simon, he throw his net on the right side… and he catch so many fish, his net, it almost break in two. l think the Savior, He the best fisherman. But my father, he come next. And not fishing like this. Oh, no, no. Fish bite all time. When no more fish, the Savior, He make more fish. He make more fish. He make more bread. He make more wine. And at night He stand watch all by Himself. He say: ”Good night, fishermen. You tired now. Go to your bunks. ”And no snorings, please. Good night, Manuel’s father.” Oh, that very nice place. Oh. Sometimes l think l go there right now. Then l say, ”Now, whoa, Manuel. ‘You gotta be better fisherman first.  That Savior, He only give dories to first-class fishermen, like your father.” So l keep on fishing. l no hurry. l know my father keep place for me in his dory.