Study Guide

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Exile

By Jules Verne

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Nemo's a man with no home but all of the world's oceans. Yeah, we don't feel too bad for him. When we read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, we don't know exactly why Nemo left dry land behind. Sure, it had something to do with the death of his family and tyranny and evil men. But we do know that he has no intention of going back, so his exile is more self-imposed than anything else. In fact, he's gotten so good at living in the ocean, he's only got sea legs these days; putting this dude back on solid ground would give him a true taste of banishment from his homeland—er, homesea.

Questions About Exile

  1. Can Nemo's exile really be called a punishment? Does he seem to be enjoying himself aboard the Nautilus?
  2. What would we think of Nemo if he lived in the ocean just for kicks—if he weren't consumed with hatred and obsessed with revenge?
  3. Nemo claims to love living in the sea, but are there any signs that he might not mind a chance to return to land?
  4. What if Nemo could live under the ocean alone? That is to say, how does his position as a captain of other exiles change our perception of him?

Chew on This

Nemo's exile is less a punishment than an opportunity to start fresh.

By casting himself out of society, Nemo has everything to gain and nothing to lose. From the moment we meet him, we realize that he no longer had any good reason to remain in the "civilized world."

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