Study Guide

Gulliver's Travels Part 2, Chapter 1

By Jonathan Swift

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Part 2, Chapter 1

"A great storm described; the long boat sent to fetch water; the author goes with it to discover the country. He is left on shore, is seized by one of the natives, and carried to a farmer's house. His reception, with several accidents that happened there. A description of the inhabitants."

  • Gulliver heads out to sea again on June 20, 1702. His ship is called the Adventure, with Captain John Nicholas.
  • About a year passes as they jump around the world, but finally (as you might expect) the Adventure hits a storm that leaves them totally confused about where they are.
  • On June 17, 1703, the sailors of the Adventure spot land and row ashore with Gulliver.
  • The landing party spots a monster in the distance, a giant man about 60 feet high. All the sailors dash to their rowboat and start rowing hell for leather back to the Adventure – accidentally leaving our friend Gulliver behind on the island (which, by the way, is the island of Brobdingnag).
  • Gulliver finds a road through a field of corn that stands at least 40 feet high. As he walks along, he finds that the corn is being harvested by guys carrying extremely large scythes.
  • Gulliver runs through the corn, but he's having trouble making any progress because everything is so huge that he can't make his way past the leaves and branches of the corn plants.
  • Finally, Gulliver gives up and lies down in the furrows between the corn rows, thinking of his wife and children. He thinks he's going to be eaten by these giants.
  • Still, when one of the reapers comes close to Gulliver, he realizes that the guy might step on him and squash him by accident, so Gulliver screams as loud as he can.
  • The reaper sees him and picks him up. Gulliver clasps his hands in a praying gesture, which the guy seems to understand.
  • The giant puts Gulliver in his jacket pocket and goes to his employer, a farmer.
  • The farmer (whom Gulliver starts to call his Master) examines Gulliver closely, and realizes that he seems to be a thinking creature and not just an animal.
  • They try to speak to each other, but neither can follow the other's language.
  • Gulliver's new master takes Gulliver home and shows him to his wife, who screams as though Gulliver is a mouse or a snake or something. Soon she gets used to him, though, and comes to like him.
  • Gulliver's master has a kid around 10 years old.
  • Gulliver worries that the kid is going to tear him apart, since kids can be rough with animals. So, he sucks up to the boy by kissing his hands.
  • Gulliver's mistress (his new master's wife) has a cat, but Gulliver figures that, if he shows it no fear, the cat will not attack him. This proves to be true: it totally ignores him.
  • After dinner, a nurse brings in the mistress's baby. She gives Gulliver to the baby as a plaything and the child almost bites Gulliver's head off. It's only through Gulliver's quick thinking that he gets the child to drop him.
  • The child starts to wail and, to quiet him, Gulliver's mistress starts to breast feed the child.
  • Gulliver goes into a pretty lengthy description of how revolting her breasts look at this size – 6 feet tall and 16 feet around, with a nipple as big as his breast.
  • Gulliver decides that even the loveliest women only look good because we don't see them magnified – if you look too close, everyone's skin looks rough.
  • After all this excitement, Gulliver's mistress puts Gulliver to bed on her handkerchief.
  • After two hours, Gulliver wakes up.
  • He sees two rats crawling towards him up the curtains and freaks out – they're both as big as a large dog to Gulliver.
  • Gulliver gets a lucky shot and manages to kill one with his sword; the second rat runs away in fear.
  • The mistress comes in and sees Gulliver covered with blood and the dead rat.
  • She picks Gulliver up and washes him off.
  • Finally, he manages to indicate to her that he needs to take care of a call of nature, so she takes him out into the garden to do his business.
  • Gulliver apologizes to the reader for dwelling on his peeing habits, but he claims that they will be helpful to the philosopher seeking to apply lessons from his experience to public and private life. (We're pretty sure this is a joke.)

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