Study Guide

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Part 2 Chapter 22

By Jules Verne

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Part 2 Chapter 22

Captain Nemo's Last Words

  • Now the windows in the salon close. The Nautilus is dark and silent. It begins moving at a high speed toward who-knows-where.
  • Aronnax goes to see Ned and Conseil. He's horrified by what he's seen, and terrified of Captain Nemo. He feels guilty, like he was an accomplice in the horrible attack.
  • Aronnax checks the charts and notices that they're close to the English Channel, heading toward the Arctic.
  • That night, Aronnax can't sleep. Images of the sinking ship are stuck in his head.
  • From that point on, he really has no idea where the Nautilus is headed. The clocks have been turned off, so he can't even tell what time of day it is.
  • He guesses that this vertigo goes on for two or three weeks, but he can't be sure.
  • It's no surprise that Ned isn't taking this into-the-deep-abyss situation too well. Aronnax thinks he might even be suicidal. He needs to escape, and soon.
  • One morning, Ned wakes Aronnax up, saying, "We're going to escape!" (2.22.13).
  • They plan on leaving that night. The Nautilus seems deserted and, well, at this point, they don't care where they end up. Ned seems to have seen land somewhere not too far away. Sure, the weather is terrible, but whatever. Did we mention that they're ready to die?
  • Aronnax spends the day in the salon, but he can't think of anything but escaping.
  • They plan on leaving at 10:00PM, before the moon lights up the night.
  • Aronnax takes a moment to look over Nemo's little museum. He puts on his warmest clothing and gathers up his notes.
  • He can't help but wonder what Nemo's up to, though. He makes his way to the captain's door. He can hear footsteps coming from within. He worries that Nemo's going to confront him, ask him why he wants to escape.
  • Aronnax manages to pull himself together, but the whole of his amazing journey, from the voyage of the Abraham Lincoln to the sinking of the ship, races through his head. In his mind, Nemo becomes less of a man and more of a myth. He's like a superman (minus the cape and the flying).
  • With a half of an hour to go before The Great Escape, Aronnax hears the faint sound of the organ. Nemo's left his room and he's playing some creepy music. Aronnax realizes he'll have to pass through the salon, past Nemo, in order to make it out. He's scared.
  • It's 10:00PM now. The moment of truth. Aronnax makes his way to the salon. He can hear the organ, softly. Nemo's there, but it's dark. Maybe he won't notice me, he thinks.
  • But Nemo sees him. He stares Aronnax down. He gets up and walks toward him, "gliding, just like a ghost" (2.22.46).
  • Aronnax keeps moving. He can just barely make out Nemo murmuring: "God almighty! Enough! Enough!" (2.22.47).
  • Aronnax runs right up the staircase to the boat.
  • Ned and Conseil are there. Ned begins to detach the boat with a big wrench.
  • Suddenly, voices. The crew has been alerted. Ned slips Aronnax a knife. They're ready to fight for their freedom… kind of like Nemo, don'tchya think?
  • Aronnax hears something that frightens him. "Maelstrom! Maelstrom!" the sailors are yelling. They're not coming for Aronnax; they're trying to save themselves from being sucked into a killer whirlpool.
  • Aronnax isn't sure how Nemo could have made such a big mistake. Maybe he meant to drive right into the Maelstrom. He may never know.
  • The Nautilus is shaking under the stress. The dinghy is ripped from the Nautilus. Aronnax hits his head and is knocked unconscious.

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