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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

Would I ever know to what nation this strange man belonged, that boasted of belonging to none? Who had produced the hatred he had sworn for the whole of humanity, the hatred which might perhaps seek a terrible vengeance? Was he one of those unrecognized scientists, one of those geniuses 'who had been hurt' to use Conseil's expression, a modern Galileo; or he was he one of those scientists […] whose career was ruined by a political revolution? (1.14.24)

Aronnax is awfully quick to guess that Nemo is out for revenge. Why do you think that is?

Quote #2

I could easily have shot this native, within close range, but I believed it better to wait for really hostile behaviour. When dealing with savages, it is better for the Europeans to riposte, rather than attack first. (1.22.39)

We think this is an awfully condescending way for Aronnax to treat the "natives." Aronnax seems to care less about killing a "savage" than he does about keeping up appearances—he wants to act like a good European should. Aronnax's investment in the social mores of his home continent speaks to his generally overstated nationalism. He's less afraid of being eating by cannibals than he is of appearing foolish.

Quote #3

"Never be of any use!" he replied animatedly. "What makes you believe, monsieur, that these riches must be considered wasted if I collect them? Do you think that it is for my own benefit that I take the trouble to gather these treasures? Who told you that I do not put them to good use? Do you think I am unaware there are suffering beings and oppressed races on this planet, wretches to be helped and victims to be avenged? Don't you understand?" (2.8.75)

Nemo seems to suggest that his actions are selfless; he's not looking to avenge his loved ones, but to help out some nameless "victims." Who exactly those victims are, we don't know. We do know that it's hard to figure out whether Nemo's a good-but-misunderstood type, or a vengeful monster to the core.

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