Study Guide

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Part 1 Chapter 18

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Part 1 Chapter 18

Four Thousand Leagues Under the Pacific

  • The next morning, Aronnax heads back up to the platform of the Nautilus just as the officer is saying that odd phrase. He thinks that maybe it means something like, "we have nothing in sight."
  • It's true. There's nothing to see except for sea. And a pretty rainbow.
  • Nemo comes up on deck and begins to make some "astronomical observations."
  • Now a bunch of sailors appear on deck; somehow—superpowers?—Aronnax is able to distinguish their nationalities just by looking at them. Or so he thinks. They pull up fishnets that they'd left out the night before. The nets are filled with a half-ton of fish. The sailors leave with the fish as quickly as they came to get them.
  • Nemo turns to Aronnax without warning and tells him to look at the sea. Isn't it a bit like us, he says. Doesn't it have its own life, its own emotions?
  • Aronnax has nothing to say to this odd philosophical observation.
  • But Nemo isn't phased by Aronnax's silence. He keeps going, talking about the "circulation" of the ocean water, and the massive amount of life in it. Dude's clearly got a major crush on the sea. The ocean has been called a "deadly habitat for man" he tells Aronnax, but it's "a life-giving element for the myriads of animals—and for me!" (1.18.18).
  • Nemo dreams of building underwater cities, independent cities, free from the control of greedy, evil men.
  • Nemo then asks Aronnax what he thinks the average depth of the ocean is. When Aronnax gives him some ballpark figures, Nemo tells him he'll try to show him the real depths first hand.
  • For the next few weeks, Nemo doesn't come around too much. Aronnax spends most of his time chilling with Conseil and Ned.
  • Pretty much every day the windows in the salon—remember, not the place where you get your hair done—open up, and they spend some time staring into the ocean.
  • Toward the end of November, the Nautilus passes Hawaii, and soon after, the Marquesas Islands.
  • At one point, they see a big group of "calamar," also known as squid. (You may have eaten these fried, with a little lemon juice and a spicy tomato dipping sauce. Yum.) Then they see another huge group of mollusks.
  • On December 11, Conseil interrupts Aronnax's reading and says, Come with me. Through the windows, they can see a huge, sunken ship, one that couldn't have gone down much more than a few hours before.
  • Aronnax can still see sailors and even a woman and her child pinned to the deck by debris. In the electric light, Aronnax spots some sharks starting to swarm the wreckage.
  • Apparently, the Nautilus has been circling this ship for a while. Aronnax can just make out the name written on its side: Florida.

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