Study Guide

In the Heart of the Sea The Twine

By Nathaniel Philbrick

The Twine

Unlike his antsy compatriots, young Benjamin Lawrence shows an admirable amount of fortitude in the aftermath of the Essex disaster… and he does it simply by weaving twine.

Although many of the crewmembers use "daily rituals" to keep their minds occupied, Lawrence takes it to another level (7.20). Using string taken from the officers' chests, Lawrence "twisted stray strands of rope into an ever lengthening piece of twine," stating that "if he should ever get out of the whaleboat alive, he would save the string as a memorial to the ordeal" (7.20).

This saves his life. While his boat-mates worry themselves into a panic, convinced that they'll die at sea, Lawrence spends time each day reminding himself of the goal he's working toward. This illustrates something Chase says in the immediate aftermath of the Essex disaster—that "once the crew had been given specific tasks to accomplish," their "morale" improved greatly (6.5).

As it happens, Lawrence's twine becomes a literal memorial to the Essex disaster, as it is one of only two remaining artifacts from the ship. Today, it is held at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Dreams really do come true, we guess.