Whaleships Are Swag Essay

Submitted By HansonKhim
Words: 1138
Pages: 5

Khim, Hanson
AP Literature, Period 7
Ms. Leaney
January 29, 2015
Whaleships are fun / try number 2 Nathaniel Philbrick depicts the scenes of the final trip of the Whaleship Essex, and survival of the remaining crew during the disaster. It follows mainly in the view of Thomas Nickerson, one of the few survivors of the ship, while also revolving around Essex first mate Chase Owens. During the 1800’s Nantucket was a very prosperous Whaling town, men would leave for 2-3 years and return for a few months. Mainly whaling sperm whales for the higher yield of oil than the previously farmed whale, “right” whale. Nickerson goes on his first whaling Expedition on the “Essex.”
My favorite part of the novel is how Philbrick compares situations that the members of the ship are experiencing to different events in history. Such as, Nickerson eating their first crew member, Philbrick references the Donner party that was trapped in the Sierra Nevadas and had resorted to cannibalism. Or comparing Chase’s leadership skills to that of Shackleton, who Philbrick comments as “one of the greatest and most revered leaders of all time.” As Shackleton had lead all 21 of his crew through a failed expedition back from the Antarctic in one piece. Or how there was a study conducted on why people of black ethnicity were first to die of starvation. This is because they have a lower percentage of body fat compared to that of their white counterpart. The little pieces of history makes reading much more enjoyable. Although the one piece of history I would have been fine without knowing was the history of the town. It sets up a good introduction, but feels incredibly slow in the beginning. There are few parts that irritates me about this book, but the few that do set a blaze beneath me. Chappel sets Charles Island on fire as a prank, killing off and making extinct many of the native species on that island. (The Island is scorched even to this day.) Being more conservative, I believe that this goes way too far and I would’ve thrown him into jail. Also the horrible blunder that Chase had committed, by not killing the whale when he has the chance. This lack of action causes the sinking of the whale ship, and the eventual death of most of the crew. He takes no punishment, because he withholds this knowledge until after his death. I thought this was a weak way of getting out of something he could have prevented. Then it was more insulting how he was having flashbacks of the incident, and makes a victim out of his own actions. As the crew progresses through the disaster, its reveals some of the greatest and most horrible of the human traits. Arriving at Henderson Island (what they thought to be Ducie Island), Pollard gathers enough crabs and birds around the island to make a feast everyone. Nickerson remarks,“ ‘. . .and perhaps no banquet was ever enjoyed with greater gusto or gave such universal satisfaction.’” The Captain was now serving his crew, showing that when times get hard even the leader comes to help. I thought it was the most touching part, because it got rid of all their differences and they were able to connect. But also how Matthew Joy chooses to return to his ship after requesting to be moved to the main ship in his final days. Joy had come back to lead his ship right before his death. This highlights the best of human nature, as Joy gives up a death surrounded by his friends for a death as leader of his ship. As he realizes that the people on his ship still need someone to lead them. While some of the worst human traits are shown as they become more and more terrified of reality. Pollard starts to tighten his grip on resources, and loses it when he is questioned. Pollard threatens Owen Coffin with a pistol to him, if he doesn’t agree with him. Owen chooses an execution, instead of following Pollard. This is a completely pointless death, and shows people can’t control themselves when they’re afraid of losing control. Then the fact that Chase has…