The Boys in the Boat

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Bobby Moch Character Analysis

The highly intelligent, talented coxswain for the University of Washington rowing team, Bobby Moch plays a pivotal role in the rowers’ success. A master strategist, Moch uses his quick thinking to size up his competition and determine the best strategy for each race. Moch goes on to attend Harvard Law School and become one of the most prominent attorneys in the Pacific Northwest.

Bobby Moch Quotes in The Boys in the Boat

The The Boys in the Boat quotes below are all either spoken by Bobby Moch or refer to Bobby Moch. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Teamwork and Trust Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Boys in the Boat published in 2014.
Chapter 14 Quotes

"That was a tough year. I wasn't liked at all," he later said. "I demanded they do better, so I made a lot of enemies." Moch drove those boys like Simon Legree with a whip. He had a deep baritone voice that was surprising in a man so small, and he used it to good effect, bellowing out commands with absolute authority. But he was also canny enough to know when to let up on the crew, when to flatter them, when to implore them, when to joke around with them. Slowly he won his new crewmates over.

Related Characters: Bobby Moch (speaker)
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Brown describes Bobby Moch, the superb coxswain for the 1936 American Olympic rowing team. Moch was a small, unimposing figure, but he was also a fast talker and quick thinking—important qualities for any good coxswain. He quickly impressed his teammates, even though they’d been fiercely loyal to his predecessor. Moch knew how to be tough—Brown compares him to Simon Legree, the villainous slave-owner from Uncle Tom’s Cabin—yet he was also fair. As a result, he gained authority over his teammates. During a race, Moch was a master of switching up the team’s strategy to confuse his competitors. He could be cautious and tactical in this thinking—as a result, he played just as much of a role in his team’s victory as any of the oarsmen.

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Chapter 15 Quotes

Bobby had been brought up to believe that everyone should be treated according to his actions and his character, not according to stereotypes. It was his father himself who had taught him that. Now it came as a searing revelation that his father had not felt safe enough to live by that same simple proposition, that he had kept his heritage hidden painfully away, a secret to be ashamed of, even in America, even from his own beloved son.

Related Characters: Bobby Moch
Page Number: 280-290
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the chapter, Brown explains how Bobby Moch came to learn that his family was Jewish. Moch was looking forward to visiting his relatives in Switzerland; however, he received a letter from his father explaining that these Swiss relatives were Jewish—which made Moch Jewish, too. Moch was devastated: his family had raised him to believe that Americans were defined by their character, not their race or class. Now, however, Moch realized that his parents didn’t truly believe in what they’d taught Moch: they were ashamed of their Jewish roots, and knew that they might face discrimination for discussing their Jewishness too openly.

The passage exemplifies the atmosphere of anti-Semitism in America and Europe during the 1930s. Jews were persecuted in many different ways, even in the United States, a country that had always prided itself on its commitment to equality. Around the same time, in Nazi Germany, Hitler was orchestrating a series of policies that would isolate the Jews from the rest of the country and eventually relegate them to death camps. It’s important to remember that, although the United States fought against Hitler in World War Two, there was pervasive racism in America too, not just in Fascist Germany.

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Bobby Moch Character Timeline in The Boys in the Boat

The timeline below shows where the character Bobby Moch appears in The Boys in the Boat. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Teamwork and Trust Theme Icon
Sports, Politics, and Community Theme Icon
Class Theme Icon
...Meanwhile, the newspaper published a story about the sophomores’ Olympic chances, outraging the varsity team. Bobby Moch, the coxswain of the JV team, took advantage of the fact that Bob Green,... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...he was pleased: with Pocock’s help, the rowers were getting better. Ulbrickson was confident that Bobby Moch would be coxswain on the varsity team; he was small, smart, and charismatic—the perfect... (full context)
Teamwork and Trust Theme Icon
Sports, Politics, and Community Theme Icon
...race. Both Cal and Washington began the race by rowing at a high stroke rate. Bobby Moch focused on maintaining a consistent stroke rate, rather than rowing with maximum power, as... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...race began promptly at eight pm, and Washington quickly fell behind—just as Ulbrickson had planned. Bobby Moch kept his crew at an even twenty-eight strokes per minute, not minding that his... (full context)
Chapter 15
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During the team’s training period on Long Island, Bobby Moch received a letter from his father; Bobby had written his father about visiting relatives... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Sports, Politics, and Community Theme Icon
...of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to the Americans, implying that they knew the Americans were responsible. Bobby Moch became so furious that he started a fight. Soon, the entire mess hall was... (full context)
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Sports, Politics, and Community Theme Icon
...row with them. Jim McMillin, team captain, told Ulbrickson how the team felt. McMillin and Bobby Moch insisted that Hume could still row—in fact, they needed him to set the rhythm... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Sports, Politics, and Community Theme Icon
...of the last chapter, Joe noticed that the other boats were moving. He shouted to Bobby, who shouted, “Row!”, and the Americans began their race. The American rowers began to panic—they... (full context)
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Sports, Politics, and Community Theme Icon
...British decided to try for an early lead, and pushed into second place behind Switzerland. Moch didn’t pay much attention; he was sure that the British would tire themselves out in... (full context)
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Knowing that he couldn’t wait any longer, Bobby Moch called for the team to increase its stroke rate, but the heavy winds slowed... (full context)
Epilogue
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...Jim McMillin also returned home soon after the Olympics ended; Roger Morris, Chuck Day, and Bobby Moch, however, traveled across Europe for six weeks. George Pocock and Al Ulbrickson spent some... (full context)
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The next year, on June 22, the boys, minus Bobby Moch, rowed in Poughkeepsie and defended their national title by four boatlengths. Many of Ulbrickson’s... (full context)
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Class Theme Icon
Bobby Moch attended law school while remaining on as a rowing coach at Washington; two years... (full context)
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Sports, Politics, and Community Theme Icon
...White, Gordy Adam, Shorty Hunt, and Don Hume. In 2002, Joyce died; three years later, Bobby Moch and Jim McMillin died, too. Joe and Roger were the last surviving members of... (full context)