© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau

by H. G. Wells

The Island of Dr. Moreau Chapter 3 Summary

The Strange Face

  • A mysterious man is blocking Prendick and Montgomery's way to the deck. Prendick describes him as "misshapen" with a face "suggestive of a muzzle" (3.1-2).
  • Montgomery yells at the man to get out of the way, and the man does so like a whipped dog.
  • The abuse continues as Montgomery yells at the man again for not being where he's supposed to be. The man says the others don't want him there, which only serves to make Montgomery even angrier. Doesn't take much with Montgomery, does it?
  • The mysterious man's ugliness continues to strike Prendick. This time he also believes he sees an odd familiarity in the face, as if he's seen the man before.
  • On the deck, Prendick is taken aback by how dirty everything is. Dogs are tied to the mainmast. Scraps of food and "indescribable filth" are flung about everywhere (3.7). There's also a puma, a llama, and some rabbits. In short, the world's worst petting zoo put out to sea.
  • Prendick questions Montgomery about the animals, but the man is tight-lipped on the subject.
  • A red-haired guy attacks the mysterious man, knocking him to the ground. The mysterious man lands near the dogs, which get excited and attack. Thankfully for the mysterious man, the dogs are muzzled.
  • Montgomery and the red-haired man, who turns out to be one Captain Davis, go at it. Montgomery has an anger issue, but Captain Davis is skunk drunk, so they're more-or-less evenly matched.
  • Complaining that Captain Davis and his crew have hazed the mysterious man too much, Montgomery demands they stop.
  • Captain Davis counter-complains that his ship is a total wreck because of the animals.
  • On that note, it's his ship so it makes sense he's upset. Plus, he and his crew can't stand the sight of the mysterious man because he's an "ugly devil" (3.31). Captain of the debate team he is not.
  • History Snack: Captain Davis refers to Montgomery as "Sawbones" (3.18). Sawbones is an old slang nickname for a doctor, particularly a surgeon. Back in the mid-1800s, anesthesia and antiseptics were not well understood, and surgeons had very few ways of dealing with life threatening injuries. Their main recourse was to amputate limps with a saw, hence the nickname. Got a bullet in your leg? Amputate. Have some gangrene in your thumb? Cut it off. Come down with the flu? Well, then you could probably get away with a bleeding, a cure as equally poor for your health as the disease.
  • Stepping between the two men, Prendick tells Captain Davis to shut up. The Captain curses at him like, well, the drunken sailor he is.
  • Prendick is relieved he stopped the fight.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement