Study Guide

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Part 2 Chapter 14

By Jules Verne

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Part 2 Chapter 14

The South Pole

  • So Nemo's done it. He bust through the ice and steered the ship into the South Pole.
  • Well, maybe. They can't be sure until noon, when the captain can use his sailor-ly implements to assess their position.
  • The group makes their way to a small island about ten miles away. Beyond it is a large landmass—a continent, Aronnax thinks.
  • Aronnax lets Nemo be the first to set foot on the newly discovered land. This is one time when Nemo not only puts his feet on the ground, but enjoys it.
  • They all spend some time exploring this odd new land. There's not much to see, except in the air, where lots of birds are flying.
  • Oh yeah, and there are penguins. (How could there not be penguins?) After some more walking, they actually come upon a penguin nesting grounds—sort of like March of the Penguins, we guess. Well, not really. At least not once Nemo has a few hundred of them shot for food. Eep.
  • By the time noon rolls around, the sun is behind the clouds, and it's begun to snow.
  • The next day, Aronnax and Conseil head out early to do some exploring. They see a bunch of seals.
  • Conseil is glad Ned didn't come; he would have killed everything in sight, he tells Aronnax.
  • Aronnax thinks this is a bit harsh, but he does agree that he probably would have annoyed Nemo, who "never spills the blood of innocent creatures without good reason" (2.14.34).
  • Aronnax and Conseil take their time, observing seals chilling on the rocks and a bunch of walruses at play.
  • At this point, it's getting close to noon, so Aronnax decides to turn back.
  • He finds Nemo on the island, waiting for the sun to show itself.
  • Like yesterday, the sun's behind the clouds. Nemo's got one more chance, though; if the sun shows itself tomorrow, he can still pull it off. Things sure would be easier if he hadn't forgotten the GPS.
  • Aronnax and Conseil spend a few more hours wandering around, collecting specimens. That night, Aronnax enjoys some seal liver. He's having a grand ol' time.
  • The next day rolls around. The sky is clearer. Nemo is optimistic.
  • Leaving the ship at 9:00AM, they make their way up a small peak. They wait for noon.
  • Noon comes. Nemo checks the instruments.
  • And… booyah. It's the South Pole.
  • Nemo gives Aronnax a little history lesson about all of the people who have explored the area around the Pole in years past before making a daring claim.
  • "I, Captain Nemo," he says, "have reached the South Pole and the 90th degree, and I take possession of this part of the globe, now compromising one-sixth of all the discovered continents" (2.14. 91). "In whose name?" Aronnax asks. "In my own," Nemo replies (14.92-3).
  • With that, Nemo produces a black flag with a golden N on it and sticks it in the ground. Looks like Nemo's a master among men after all.

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