Study Guide

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Part 2 Chapter 18

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Part 2 Chapter 18


  • Guess what this chapter's about?
  • That's right: squid.
  • The Nautilus keeps cruising north, into the Gulf of Mexico. The group has traveled 17,000 leagues now and there's no sign that Nemo wants to stop anytime soon.
  • Aronnax starts seeing less and less of the captain. Nemo doesn't seem interested in showing off the undersea world anymore. Still, things are going well for Aronnax and company. They're feeling good, and Aronnax is getting a lot done with his book.
  • He still spends his days looking out the windows, observing fish and plants.
  • One day, as they're traveling close to the Bahamas, Ned notices a bunch of squids' caves, and he can see some squid moving around among the seaweed.
  • "I would not be surprised to see a few monsters here!" he says (2.18.14).
  • Conseil starts talking about the Kraken, the enormous squid-beast of myth and legend.
  • Ned doesn't believe this gossip for a minute. He's a sailor, and sailors don't believe in that kind of stuff.
  • But they get to talking about all things giant squid, all the old legends and ancient drawings.
  • Aronnax tells them that there are records of squids with huge tentacles, and that even if such giant squids haven't been caught, they've at least been seen.
  • Out of nowhere—okay, not out of nowhere, you probably saw this coming from a mile away—a humongous squid appears in the window.
  • Aronnax screams. Ned says, "What a frightening beast!" (2.18.67).
  • Aronnax, ever the scientist, gets out a pad and pencil and starts drawing the thing.
  • Now the squid's terrible, terrible posse—seven in all—shows up, and the whole group of 'em attack the Nautilus.
  • Captain Nemo and his first mate show up. He's not looking so good.
  • "A curious collection of squid," Aronnax says. "Right," Nemo says, "and we are going to fight them hand to hand" (2.18.84-5).
  • Aronnax can't believe his ears. He knew Nemo was kind of a nut, but he didn't know he was this crazy.
  • Turns out electric bullets don't work against squishy squid skin, so they have no choice but to go mano a mano.
  • Ned volunteers his harpooning services. Nemo accepts.
  • The Nautilus surfaces and a squid immediately pulls the hatch off with one of his tentacles. A tentacle slithers into the hole; Nemo cuts it right off with an axe.
  • Two more come in, grab a dude, and pull him outside. Nemo rushes up through the hatch and the others follow.
  • The dude is being thrown around by the squid, and he's screaming "Au secours! Au secours!" (That's "Help!" in French.) Aronnax realizes he's been on board with a fellow Frenchman the whole time. He can't bear to watch him get thrashed by the squid.
  • Meanwhile, Nemo's really bringing it. He chops off another squid arm with his axe. Aronnax, Conseil, and Ned follow suit, stabbing the beast wherever they can.
  • Soon, seven of the squid's eight tentacles are gone; only the one holding the poor man is left. Just as Nemo and a sailor start off to rescue him, the squid shoots ink and disappears over the side.
  • Everyone flips out. They're surrounded by squid. Ned's going nuts with his harpoon, spearing squid left and right.
  • All of sudden, he's knocked down by one of the monstrous beasts. The squid opens its beak wide to eat him. But Nemo saves the day, swinging his axe right between the squid's jaws. Ned gets up and spears the squid through its triple heart.
  • Nemo tells him Ned he owed him one (for the shark save) and Ned bows.
  • Nemo, covered in squid blood, cries over the loss of one of his crewmen.

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