Study Guide

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Part 1 Chapter 13

By Jules Verne

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Part 1 Chapter 13

A Few Figures

  • Nemo sits Aronnax down in the aptly named "sitting room" and tries to explain how the Nautilus works. And while this chapter is called "A Few Figures," we think it should be called "A Lot of Figures, None of Which Are Very Important or Accurate." What it all comes down to is this: Captain Nemo is a visionary, a truly brilliant engineer, and he's figured out how to build a submarine vessel that can do all of those things that Aronnax saw the Nautilus doing from the deck of the Abraham Lincoln. Phew.
  • Here are a few of the details.
  • That weird glowing everyone saw? It's caused by the light in the cockpit of the Nautilus, which works sort of like a lighthouse, using a big reflector to amplify the light.
  • This gets the wheels a-turning in Aronnax's brain. Was the Scotia incident an accident, he wants to know.
  • Yes, says Nemo.
  • And that whole Abraham Lincoln thing?
  • In that case, Nemo says, I was being attacked, and I needed to defend myself. Still, he continues, I only went so far as to disable its engines.
  • Aronnax is mesmerized.
  • Nemo goes on, talking about how great his ship is. It has nothing to collide with, it can weather any storm merely by diving underwater, and its energy supplies are pretty much limitless.
  • It's clear to Aronnax that Nemo loves the Nautilus like it's his baby. His huge, metal baby.
  • Now Aronnax wants to know: how'd you build the Nautilus in secret?
  • Easy, says Nemo. I just got different companies to make the different parts, and ordered each under different names to keep things under wraps.
  • As for the construction of the vessel, that was easy too. Nemo just used his own personal desert island as a workshop, then burned down any traces of the workshop after it was complete.
  • So you must be super rich, huh? Aronnax asks.
  • Totally, says Nemo. I could pay off France's national debt if I wanted to. Dude, that's like, Warren Buffett rich.
  • Aronnax stares at his host in amazement.

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