Despite his superior rank, the captain
was not respected as a leader. In contrast, Mister Roberts was widely
admired by the crew, and even beloved to some extent. What actions did
you see Mister Roberts take throughout the movie that would have
contributed to his men viewing him in this regard as a leader?
Were any of Mister Roberts actions
detrimental to his ability to act as a leader? In particular, examine
the challenges he encountered in leading in the days after the men
returned from their island liberty.
Ensign Pulver asks Mr. Roberts, “What
do you really think of me, honestly?” Mister Roberts replies, “I think
you’re the most hapless, lazy, disorganized, and in general lecherous
person I have known in my entire life.” He then goes on to dress him
down in even more specific terms. What do you think of a leader using
such brutal honesty? Mister Roberts in part defends what he says by
stating that Pulver asked him, but even so, does that give a leader full
license to criticize someone so harshly? Does the fact that the
criticism may have been completely true justify it? What about the
ship’s doctor being present?