The Name Controversy in The Shipbuilder There are many instances in Ken Mitchell's play The Shipbuilder, where the main character Jaanus Karkulainen, insists on being called by his Finnish name Karkulainen. In the play, many characters call him Johnny Crook. This situation creates controversy about names and shows how important names are to some people. Jaanus and Jukka create most of this controversy.
Jaanus and Jukka are brothers who are born in Finland. Jukka move's out of Finland and he becomes a Canadian, in name, in body and in soul. Jaanus relocates to Canada several years later, but he's different. When Jaanus moves to Canada he doesn't become a Canadian. He is a Finn living in Canada. His body is in Canada but his name, and his soul still belong to Finland. When Jaanus first enters the play he insists that his name is Karkulainen. This immediately shows that although he lives in Canada he will still go by his Finnish given name.
The differences between Jaanus and Jukka are shown when Jaanus and Jukka first reunite in Canada. Jukka Karkulainen now goes by the name of Yuki Crook, and thinks nothing of it. His name means very little to him. Jukka then tells Jaanus that there are no Fins living in Canada even though Jukka himself is Finnish. Jukka is now a Canadian. His heritage meant nothing to him. Jaanus would never let that happen to himself. He was born Finnish he would die Finnish.
One scene that really shows Jaanus' idea of the importance of names to your heritage, is when Jaanus goes to court. The Judge asks him how he will plead to all of his charges, and calls him Johhny Crook, not Jaanus Karkulainen. To plied his case, all that Jaanus replies is "I am Jaanus Karkulainen." He wouldn't give up his heritage for anything.
One scene later, after two years apart, Jaanus and Bender reunite. Bender is a friend of Jaanus' who met Jaanus when he first came to Canada. When Bender greets Jaanus he calls to him, "Johnny. Johnny Yer back!" Bender is excited to see his old friend but Jaanus did not like being called by his wrongful name. The two had been apart for two years and the first thing that Jaanus says to his friend is that he is Jaanus Karkulainen. This shows, once again, how much Jaanus is attached to his name.
The final scene of the play show's that after all of this time Jaanus has not changed at all. The entire town is ready to maul Jaanus. Jaanus stands next to Bender surrounded by the townspeople. The final phase that Jaanus utters before being taken away is, "I am Jaanus Karkulainen." Throughout all of the struggles Jaanus had fought off. Throughout all of the judgement he had received. Jaanus Karkulainen remained Jaanus Karkulainen not willing to give up his heritage for anyone.
The controversy regarding names is a theme mentioned throughout the play. Jaanus and Jukka are related by blood, yet are almost nothing alike. One is a Finn and the other is a Canadian. Jaanus Karkulainen and Yuki Crook. Jaanus thinks that a name is important because it's a part of you. He was born a Finn and will die a Finn. Jaanus' name is a part of him and a part no one could ever take away from Jaanus Karkulainen.