While I am on the subject of pirates, which I referenced in this post, I’d like to bring up the only one-handed fictional character everyone knows: Captain Hook. I spent most of my life really hating that guy. You can imagine why. It’s not easy having something so obvious in common with a terrible villain, especially as a kid.
I had to re-evaluate my anti-Captain Hook stance (a little) when my daughter started watching “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” In the show, Captain Hook is not only a villain but also a bumbling oaf. It was hardly an improvement. But as I watched, I noticed something. He might have been a bad guy and a stupid guy, but he was never helpless because of his lack of an arm. The show never, that I saw, had him struggling as a one-handed person. He struggled with bad decisions and was defeated fair and square by the good pirates. I’m still not crazy about the whole disability = villain trope, but at least it doesn’t equal helpless. I think that’s a win.
In my new-found not-hatred for Captain Hook, I happened to read a couple of interesting books recently:
- Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen is a re-imagining of the Peter Pan story. In the book, Captain Hook isn’t the villain at all. He’s a tragic hero who may be able to find a happy ending after all. It’s part-historical novel, part-fairy tale fantasy, and an odd sort of coming-of-age novel. There’s also a romance, which I appreciated. How often do you see the person with the disability get the girl? ;) It is far from my usual reading choice, but I rather enjoyed it.
- Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz is a children’s novel for middle graders (roughly ages 10-12) that follows Captain Hook’s daughter as she takes command of the crew after her father has died. It’s a fun adventure full of humor and action with a girl at the center. Jocelyn Hook is a two-handed heroine, but the book has some funny references to the disabled pirate stereotype that made me laugh.
Maybe pirates aren’t so bad after all. And maybe people with differences aren’t as helpless as people think either. :)