Study Guide

In the Heart of the Sea Chapter 11

By Nathaniel Philbrick

Chapter 11

Games of Chance

  • It's January 20. Pollard and Hendricks are almost out of food when an African American member of Hendrick's crew named Lawson Thomas dies of starvation.
  • You can probably guess how this one ends, folks—it's cannibal time.
  • "Two days later" Charles Shorter "died and was eaten" (11.9). Like Thomas, Shorter was an African American.
  • Meanwhile, Chase's crew is similarly desperate, though Chase's strong leadership skills help keep morale up.
  • Back at Team Pollard/Hendricks's mobile HQ, another African American crewmember named Isaiah Sheppard dies and is eaten. Are you starting to see a pattern here?
  • On January 28th, Samuel Reed dies and is eaten.
  • The following night, Pollard loses sight of Hendricks's ship and "lacked the strength" to search for it (11.34). At this point, Pollard's crew now consists of him, Coffin, Ramsdell, and Ray.
  • Then, on February 6th, a serious decision is made. Sixteen-year-old Ramsdell suggests casting lots to decide who will be killed and eaten so that the others can survive.
  • Though resistant, Pollard agrees. To his horror, Coffin is chosen. (Coffin is Pollard's nephew and Ramsdell's best friend, by the way.) No one wants to go through with it, but Coffin "had already resigned himself to his fate" (11.44).
  • The deed is done.