Study Guide

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Part 2 Chapter 19

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Part 2 Chapter 19

The Gulf Stream

  • From the moment Nemo breaks down crying, things get a little crazy.
  • The Nautilus doesn't keep a normal course. It just drifts "like a plaything of the waves" (2.19.4).
  • This goes on for ten days. Then things start picking up steam. The Nautilus enters the Gulf Stream, that big old ocean current that flows all the way from Florida to the North Atlantic.
  • The warm water of the Stream makes for some interesting fish-viewing, so Aronnax and Conseil spend some time doing that whole observing thing.
  • At one point, Aronnax discovers that they're only 75 miles off the coast of North Carolina and nobody seems to be keeping lookout.
  • Escape seems not only possible, but immanent.
  • Unfortunately, some bad weather renders an escape infeasible for now. Ned starts to think about a Plan B. He wants Aronnax to be upfront with Nemo. He can't handle being so close to his homeland and not being able to go home.
  • So Aronnax promises to bring the whole freedom thing up with Nemo the next time he sees the captain.
  • Aronnax wastes no time. He comes into Nemo's room without waiting for Nemo to answer the door.
  • Nemo doesn't want to talk. He's working on a summary of his studies and the story of his life. Packed into a watertight container, it'll be released into the ocean by the last surviving member of the Nautilus.
  • Aronnax wants nothing more than to read the manuscript, but he has a mission to accomplish.
  • He asks Nemo for his and his companions' freedom.
  • Nemo won't hear of it. They made a deal, he says. But you're treating us like slaves, Aronnax replies.
  • Whatever, says Nemo.
  • Well, you never said we couldn't escape, replies Aronnax.
  • True, says Nemo.
  • Aronnax explains that Ned can't take it anymore, that he might get desperate and do something wacky. Aronnax can say no more.
  • Nemo tells him that Ned can do whatever he wants. He doesn't want to talk about this ever again. He leaves.
  • From then on, Aronnax's relationship with Nemo is tense, to say the least.
  • Aronnax tells Ned and Conseil about his conversation.
  • Ned's mind is made up. Escape is the only answer. The Nautilus is approaching Long Island, and he wants to jump ship—no matter what.
  • Unfortunately, the weather gets in the way again. The Nautilus bobs up and down in the waves, pushed around by hurricane-force winds. Still, it's nothing the sub can't handle.
  • After a stormy day, the Nautilus heads back underwater, finding peace and quiet even in the wake of the storm.

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