In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea Jason Barker In the novel “In the heart of the Sea” Nathaniel Philbrick introduces the reader to Nantucket Island located in the east coast.

He establishes the importance of the whaling industry in relation to the island. Philbrick does an incredible job of telling the story of 20 regular men doing their jobs whaling. They set sail on a renewed ship called the Essex. The Essex took a beating from a storm before it finally met its match an angered sperm whale. The whale rammed the ship to the point beyond repair.It forced the whalers to put what they can on to the smaller whaler boats. Surviving at sea with limited resources the sailed until they were completely out of everything.

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The men resorted to the ultimate ultimatum of either accepting death or eating their dead crewmembers. Philbrick does an amazing job of opening our minds to the near death situation the crewmen were forced to face. “Even if Nantucket’s Quakers dominated the island economically and culturally, room was made for others, and by the early ninteenth century there were two congregational church towers bracketing the town north and south.Yet all Shared in a common, spiritually infused mission- to maintain a peaceful life on land while using raising blood havoc at sea” Chapter 1, Pg. 9 . The Nantucket Isalnd was a very close community who shared a common interest. Mostly inhabited by Quakers, they split the community into commoners and outsiders. Even outsiders that were whalers would be treated with a common respect, this illustrates the importance of the industry to the community.

Quakers were Pacifist, “Nantucketers saw no contradiction between their livelihood and their religion.God Himself had granted them dominion over the fishes of the sea. ” Chapter 1, pg. 9.

The city of Nantucket depended on the hard work and dedication of the whalers. Whalers were only men and were easily away from home for two or three years. Women were expected to raise their kids by themselves and keep the town running. Quakerism reinforced women’s strength, putting them at more balance with the equality of sexes. Yet a fair amount of the women resort to opium, because of the emotional damage resulting from their missing husbands.

The Essex was just one of seventy Nantucket whale ships sailing the Pacific and Atlantics sea in the year of 1819. “With its huge scarred head halfway out of the water and its tail beating the ocean into a white-water wake more than forty feet across, the whale approached the ship at twice its original speed-at least six knots… With a tremendous cracking and splintering of oak, the whale struck the ship just beneath the anchor secured at the cathead on the port bow.

” Chapter 5, pg. 83.This cataclysmic event of the ship being destroyed by an angered sperm whale that occurred in the 19th century would be comparable to the 20th century sinking of the Titanic. “Although townspeople continued to whisper about the Essex well into the twentieth century, it was not a topic a Nantucketer openly discussed. ” Chapter 14, pg. 217.

The news of the Essex crumbling would surely spread like wild fire and be discussed for years to come. The news may scare the other whalers, but it would not stop them from continuing to hunt sperm whales.Nantucket’s solely income was the whaling industry so just one ship out of seventy suffering from a tragedy will not stop them from continuing business. The whaling industry affected the nation, as a whole because the Nantucket Island was part of the nation and it was very wealthy, which meant it would only help improve the nations economy through revenue and new trade opportunities. The industry also helped explore the uncharted seas.

It had great impact, because the nation was young it was growing and these kinds of opportunities is what it needed to fuel the growth.It had impact on a nation as a whole because it tells us that how we got here today. We are here today thanks to the gratitude of people’s sacrifices for the growth of the economy, which fueled our country. Many ships and sailors were lost in the course of hunting whales, but it brought in so much revenue that sailors continued to do it regardless of the risk factors. Some decisions that the crew made prior to the ramming of the ship was that they wanted to continue to progress forward instead of heading back to repair the ship when it was damaged.

Pollard’s behavior, after both the knockdown and the whale attack, indicates that the lacked the resolve to overrule his two younger and less experienced officers. ” Chapter 6, pg. 101. Phillbrick puts the point across that the captain was not very authoritative and sturdy with his decisions. In my opinion they should have set their dignity and eagerness aside and repaired the ship when it was damaged the first time from the storm. This could have ultimately increased the survivability of the ship and its members. At twenty years of age, the Essex was reaching the point when many vessels began to exhibit serious structural deterioration. ” Chapter 1, pg.

19. Due to the critical condition the ship was already in, the ramming of the ship from the sperm whale was all it needed to put the ship at point of no repair. The crewmembers were forced to take what they can and load up three whaleboats.

“The plan had one iron requirement: they had to make their provisions last two months. Each man would get six ounces of hardtack and half a pint of water a day. ” Chapter 7, pg.

106.The author describes to us what just living from day to day with limited food is hard enough as is, but having to fight survival through sailing and rowing the boat with no energy. Eventually running out of food they were forced to revert to Cannibalism. “For Pollard and Ramsdell, it was the bones-gifts from the men they had known and loved-that became their obsession. They stuffed their pockets with finger bones; they sucked the sweet marrow from the splintered ribs and thighs. ” Chapter 12, pg. 18. Philbrick illustrates a mental image of the intensity survival has gotten to.

It lets us feel the brutality and the decision of what a crewmember had to do in order to survive. It is hard to judge what I would do if I were in that position, because sitting at home in the right state of mind not hungry I say of course not, but when in the situation of a sailor stranded, with nothing to eat but a body of a fellow friend or crewmember. It is a very complex situation that I hope I never have to witness and make the decision for. The sources Philbrick utilizes in this study of the whaling are all real historical information that really help breakdown and explain the parts of the story.The author used real technical terms to explain the boat, but when he did he explained what the term meant in order for the reader to visualize what he was talking about. He also used correct medical terms to explain the critical condition the surviving men were in.

Philbrick uses a third person perspective to narrate the story. It enables him to really incorporate real historical information into the story, but at the same time be able to connect it to the experience of the surviving crewmen.The third person perspective lets him describe to us what is going on in both Pollard’s and Chase’s boat, even though they were separated. He is also capable of telling what is going with every individual member, and what goes on in Nantucket. Phillbrick uses photos, illustrations and maps with captions to help us visualize what was going on.

The bibliography at the end of the book is massive and filled with scholarly resources, which informs the reader that he of what kind of information the author was using and that he knew what he was talking about.This book was very well put together in ways that it was a story, but had true history and information incorporated into it. It lets the reader experience everything from what everyday life was like on Nantucket Island during the 19th century, to what human beings do in order to just survive life itself. This epic tale helps the author teach the reader that events like these are what helped shaped America. It gives the reader more gratitude to the kind of jobs we have now in comparison to what jobs were offered in the past.

Work Cited Philbrick, Nathaniel. In the Heart of the Sea. Penguin Books 2001



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