Pedro, one of three ship’s boys on board the Santa Maria, acknowledges that he was hired on not for his seamanship, but for his ability to read and write. Conrad uses the device of a journal to tell of his adventures with Columbus.
Pedro’s Journal is a vivid revelation of the details of the voyage as well as the time period. Readers see the boy’s discomfort in the explorer’s proprietary treatment of the natives and, in particular, his shame that these people are allowed to believe that the Spaniards are deities.
Koeppen’s line drawings, many of the ships and their equipage, add dimension to the plot. Conrad’s story will serve as an attractive alternative to nonfiction reading on the subject.