The Perfect Storm: Summary, Characters & Author

The Perfect Storm: Summary, Characters & Author
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  • 0:00 The Perfect Tale
  • 1:40 Characters of Note
  • 2:34 Creative License
  • 3:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
'The Perfect Storm' is the story of the fishing vessel 'Andrea Gail', lost at sea during the 'perfect storm' of 1991. This lesson will cover the summary and characters of the book 'The Perfect Storm,' as well as more about the author, Sebastian Junger.

The Perfect Tale

Sometimes, history is stranger than fiction. In Sebastian Junger's book, The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea, such an example exists. It is about the 1991 'perfect storm' off New England: a combination of a nor'easter and a hurricane that sunk the small fishing boat the Andrea Gail and all of its crew. However, neither the book nor the later film adaptation are completely true to history. Junger took a significant amount of creative license in order to create a story without the speculation that actually surrounds the tragedy.

Swordfishing was big business, but the crew of the Andrea Gail had seen little of the money. Gathering the night before their departure, the men resolve to give the season one last attempt. And, they finally make the catch of their dreams. The money that these fish will bring in ensures a profit for every man on the boat. This is important because we learn through frequent flashbacks that each of these men is in financial trouble. However, their good luck runs out when the on-board ice maker breaks. Without ice, the fish will rot, and all their work will be for nothing.

With that in mind, the captain of the Andrea Gail, Billy Tyne, opts to try to outrun the storm that is coming. Despite the best efforts of Linda Greenlaw, the captain of a nearby boat named Hannah Boden, Tyne pushes his boat back towards home port and into the fury of the storm. The tiny boat and its crew have no chance, even with the rescue attempts of an Air National Guard helicopter. The whole crew of the Andrea Gail is lost at sea, and the helicopter is doomed, too--it crashes, and one crew member drowns.

Characters of Note

There are many important figures in the story of The Perfect Storm:

Billy Tyne was the captain of the Andrea Gail and was desperate for that one big catch to make up for a horrible fishing season. Having successfully achieved this, he tried to outrun the storm and get his ship back to port with its profitable cargo of swordfish.

Linda Greenlaw was the captain of the Hannah Boden, and gave Billy plenty of grief about his fishing practices. But, she showed real concern for her friend when he said he was going to try to outrun the storm. It was Greenlaw who found very small amounts of wreckage from the Andrea Gail after it was lost.

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