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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


by Jules Verne

Captain Nemo Timeline and Summary

  • Nemo appears in the cell occupied by Aronnax and company. He does not respond to their questions.
  • Nemo returns later and reveals that he understood everything they said. He lets them stay on the Nautilus as long as they agree to a few terms. Most importantly, they can never leave.
  • He doesn't tell them much of anything about himself. He does ask them to call him Captain Nemo.
  • He gives Aronnax the grand tour of the Nautilus.
  • After disappearing for a while, he invites Aronnax to go hunting on Crespo Island. Aronnax doesn't understand, since Nemo supposedly doesn't go on land.
  • It all comes together for Aronnax when he realizes that Nemo is taking him hunting underwater.
  • Nemo takes Aronnax to the site of two famous shipwrecks near the island of Vanikoro.
  • But then he musses things up a bit by beaching the Nautilus in Torres Strait. While waiting for the tide to shift, the Nautilus is attacked by savages. Wuh-oh.
  • Never fear, Nemo is here! He repels the cannibals' attacks by sending an electric current through the Nautilus's hull. This way, he can hurt the buggers without killing 'em.
  • Just about as soon as the whole man-eater situation is under control, a new situation develops. (This book is pretty much one perilous, life-endangering adventure after another. That's undersea travel for ya.) Nemo invokes his right to lock up Aronnax and company and apparently has them drugged.
  • When they wake up, Nemo asks Aronnax to look at a man who has been injured in some kind of engine accident. Aronnax doesn't really buy this whole "accident" bit, though.
  • At least Nemo is kind to his dead, though. He leads a funeral procession to an underwater graveyard, where the man is buried.
  • Then he invites Aronnax and friends to visit some oyster beds in the Indian Ocean. He shows them a giant oyster that contains a massive pearl, which he has been feeding so it can grow all big and shiny and wealth-inducing for him.
  • Later, they encounter a pearl diver. Nemo saves the diver from a shark, which then attacks Nemo. He's saved by Ned Land. Thanks, Super Harpooner Dude. You're a real Man's Man.
  • Anyway, since his manhood has now been one-upped by Ned's, Nemo thinks it's about time to demonstrate his maritime prowess again. So he shows Aronnax how he can travel between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean via the "Arabian Tunnel." Nice.
  • Off the coast of Greece, Nemo sends chests of gold out to a mysterious diver named Pesce. You know, this is just typical Nemo-loves-saving-the-"oppressed" stuff.
  • Now in Vigo Bay, Nemo shows Aronnax the site of another famous shipwreck. This is the place where Nemo harvests most of his gold. When Aronnax suggests that he's being selfish by taking it all for himself, Nemo tells him that he uses it to help the suffering peoples of the world. Right, Nemo. Right.
  • In case they were wondering where Nemo gets the fuel to power his giant sub, he then brings Aronnax and company to his underwater coal mines.
  • And then there are whales. Lots of whales. Nemo is concerned that the smaller, prettier Antarctic whales are being attacked by sperm whales. So Nemo uses the Nautilus to kill the predators. Why? Because he hates predators, and loves prey.
  • Finally, Nemo makes it all the way to the South Pole and plants his flag there. Yes, he loves himself that much.
  • After the Nautilus is attacked by a bunch of squid, Nemo does his best to fend them off. He manages to save Ned Land, but he cannot prevent one of his crew members from being killed. He breaks down and cries. We don't feel too sorry for him, though, because he got himself into this undersea mess in the first place.
  • Depressed as depressed can be, Nemo disappears for a long time.
  • He does emerge once to show Aronnax the shipwreck of the Vengeur, a ship that fought on the side of the French Republic and sunk in heroic fashion. Likely because he wants to prove some point about vengeance or something. Aronnax takes this hint to heart, and decides Nemo is kind of a nutter once and for all.
  • As if to prove to Aronnax that Arronax is right about him, Nemo then destroys an attacking ship. He claims to be "the law" and "justice." Alright then, sir.
  • When Aronnax is attempting to escape Nemo's madness, he passes by Nemo, who's playing the organ in the dark salon. Aronnax can hear Nemo murmur, "God almighty! Enough! Enough!" (2.22.47). These are the last words he (and we) hear Nemo speak. Creeptown: Population One.