The Boys in the Boat

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George Yeoman Pocock Character Analysis

George Yeoman Pocock was one of the key figures in the history of rowing. The descendant of generations of accomplished boatmakers in England, Pocock grew up learning about the subtleties of rowing and woodworking, and by the time he was twenty, had already become a highly accomplished designer of rowing shells. Pocock didn’t come from a wealthy family, but he had the talent and ambition to educate himself far beyond what was expected of his class at the time. After moving to the United States, Pocock became the world’s premiere builder of rowing shells, and throughout the 1930s, he was a key mentor and advisor on the University of Washington rowing team. In particular, Pocock sympathized with Joe Rantz’s working-class anxieties and uncertainties.

George Yeoman Pocock Quotes in The Boys in the Boat

The The Boys in the Boat quotes below are all either spoken by George Yeoman Pocock or refer to George Yeoman Pocock. 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 12 Quotes

Pocock paused and stepped back from the frame of the shell and put his hands on his hips, carefully studying the work he had so far done. He said for him the craft of building a boat was like religion. It wasn't enough to master the technical details of it. You had to give yourself up to it spiritually; you had to surrender yourself absolutely to it. When you were done and walked away from the boat, you had to feel that you had left a piece of yourself behind in it forever, a bit of your heart.

Related Characters: Joe Rantz, George Yeoman Pocock
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

In the fall of 1935, George Yeoman Pocock took Joe Rantz under his wing. Pocock, one of the greatest boat builders of his time, was an important adviser to the University of Washington crew team, as well as its resident designer of shells (racing boats). Pocock was also an immensely thoughtful, introspective man, and he took an almost religious view of the sport of rowing. Pocock liked Joe—they both came from working-class backgrounds, and had used their natural talents to rise through society. They’d also had to deal with the same tragedy: the loss of a mother at an early age. Perhaps as a result of this, Pocock felt comfortable opening up to Joe about his philosophy of building a boat: he described the feeling of making a great boat as a kind of spiritual surrender.

The passage is important because it establishes a firm bond between Joe and Pocock. Furthermore, almost everything Pocock says about building shells could be said about the sport of rowing. Good rowers don’t succeed simply because of their individual strokes; they succeed because they learn how to work alongside their peers. In Pocock’s language, they “surrender” a part of themselves to the boat itself, and devote themselves to succeeding at all costs. Pocock had a profound impact on Joe’s success as a rower—and, given Pocock’s insightfulness and his bond of trust with Joe, it’s not hard to see why.

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Chapter 16 Quotes

The Americans marched awkwardly on around the track and onto the infield to the strains of the "Deutschlandlied." George Pocock would later say that when they heard the strains of the German anthem they began to march deliberately out of step with the music.

Related Characters: George Yeoman Pocock
Page Number: 318
Explanation and Analysis:

During the Olympic opening ceremony, the Americans marched onto the stage as orchestral music played. However, according to some members of the Olympic team, including George Yeoman Pocock, the Americans didn’t simply “play along” with the pomp and formality of the proceedings. Indeed, according to Pocock, many members of the team deliberately marched out of step to the music, thereby signaling their defiance of the Germans.

The passage is important because it suggests that some members of the Olympic team from America had strong reservations (or at least suspicions) about the Nazis. While the truth is that most of the American Olympians who visited Berlin in 1936 were extremely impressed with the Reich, at least a few of them found subtle ways to voice their opposition.

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George Yeoman Pocock Character Timeline in The Boys in the Boat

The timeline below shows where the character George Yeoman Pocock appears in The Boys in the Boat. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
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Sports, Politics, and Community Theme Icon
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During some of Bolles’ lectures, a British man named George Yeoman Pocock would be in attendance. Pocock came from a long line of boatbuilders. The... (full context)
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In 1912, George and Dick won a valuable commission from the Vancouver Rowing Club to build two sculls... (full context)
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After World War One, Dick and George received hundreds of orders for shells. George Pocock became increasingly devoted to rowing; in particular,... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...Ebright quickly built Cal’s program into one of America’s best. He bought his shells from George Pocock, still regarded as the world’s best boatmaker. However, he became suspicious that Pocock had... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...were interfering with the team’s performance. Bolles realized that he would need to talk to Pocock about what to do. That night, the team slept in uncomfortable, hot cots. (full context)
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...Callow’s team succeeded not only because of its talents but because Callow had arranged for George Pocock to design the team’s shells. (full context)
Chapter 8
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That fall, Joe threw himself into rowing. He idolized George Pocock, a man who, despite having little in the way of a formal education, had... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...to the Olympics. To do so, he needed to make better use of his ally, George Pocock. He and his wife often dined with Pocock and Pocock’s wife. One evening, Ulbrickson... (full context)
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George Pocock continued to spend time with Joe; he asked Joe about his family, and learned... (full context)
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...crash. On November 25, Joe’s boat came in third. In spite of Joe’s lackluster performances, George Pocock continued to watch him closely. (full context)
Chapter 13
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Ulbrickson relied on George Pocock to improve the rowers’ form and technique. In general, he was pleased: with Pocock’s... (full context)
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...dropped Joe from boat one to boat two, and then down to boat three. Meanwhile, George Pocock began to get a sense for Joe’s rowing style: Joe was talented but sloppy,... (full context)
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...Roger Morris, Chuck Day, Jim McMillin, and Johnny White. He began to feel the feeling Pocock had talked about—the feeling of unity with his fellow oarsmen. On March 23, Joe’s boat... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...he saw Joyce with her parents, cheering for him. During the train ride, Tom Bolles, George Pocock, and Al Ulbrickson held strategy sessions to ensure that Washington would be able to... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...and prepared to sail for Berlin on the SS Manhattan, accompanied by Al Ulbrickson and George Pocock. Before leaving, the team attended an Olympic reception at the Lincoln Hotel, where they... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...As the American team was preparing to practice, a photographer accidentally broke the Husky Clipper. Pocock worked to repair the shell while the team practiced in a less aerodynamic boat. Their... (full context)
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...were cheers but also whistling and stamped feet (the European counterpart to booing and catcalling). George Pocock remembers that the American athletes deliberately marched out of step with the music to... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...formidable British rowing team, especially the talented coxswain John Noel Duckworth and the stroke, William George Ranald Mundell Laurie. The British team reminded Ulbrickson of his own boys at their best—they... (full context)
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...to the heats, Ulbrickson made a point of backing off and letting the boys rest. Pocock had rebuilt the Husky Clipper for the Washington team; however, he noted that the American... (full context)
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...cheered. At six pm, the boys, including Don Hume, prepared for their race. Ulbrickson and Pocock were nervous—the odds of taking gold with Hume in such poor shape were slim. Meanwhile,... (full context)
Epilogue
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...ended; Roger Morris, Chuck Day, and Bobby Moch, however, traveled across Europe for six weeks. George Pocock and Al Ulbrickson spent some time in England. By mid-October, everyone was back in... (full context)
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...medal in 1948, and is remembered as one of the finest crew coaches in history. George Pocock maintained his reputation as the best boatmaker in the world. Mercifully, he never lived... (full context)