Study Guide

In the Heart of the Sea Chapter 14

By Nathaniel Philbrick

Chapter 14

Consequences

  • In February 1823, disaster strikes the Two Brothers when it runs into "a coral reef" (14.8). That's bad. Pollard and crew abandon ship and are quickly picked up by the Martha, another whaling ship.
  • Pollard gives up on sailing after that. He becomes Nantucket's night watchman, which is a low-prestige position but one that fits Pollard's personality.
  • Chase, on the other hand, would go on to be a hugely successful captain. Sadly, "his personal life [...] proved less fortunate" (14.23).
  • First, Chase's wife dies in childbirth. He then marries Nancy Joy, the widow of Matthew Joy. Sadly, Nancy also dies in childbirth less than a decade later.
  • Naturally, Chase remarries quickly to a woman named Eunice Chadwick. After returning from his final voyage (given his age) he discovers that she was cheating on him. Womp womp.
  • Nickerson, Lawrence, and Ramsdell stay in the sailing business as well. Ramsdell and Lawrence become captains of whaling ships, while Nickerson eventually joins the merchant service before moving to Brooklyn.
  • Although the Essex disaster is all hush-hush in Nantucket, it becomes a global media sensation. Ever heard of a book called Moby-Dick?Yeah, that's based on the Essex. Though it's now considered a literary classic, Moby-Dick actually bombed when it was published.
  • By the mid-1800s, Nantucket has become a completely different town. There are far fewer Quakers than before, which leads to some ostentatious displays of wealth from "rich islanders" (14.59). These garish displays eventually burn to the ground after a fire tears through town.
  • Later, the Gold Rush will put the final nail in Nantucket's coffin. With their whaling business taken by other port towns, Nantucket is now a shadow of its former self.
  • In the 1870s, after Chase's and Pollard's deaths, Nickerson decides to start writing his memories of the disaster.
  • Lawrence dies in 1879. Before his death, he donates a very special object to the Nantucket Historical Association—the "piece of twine" he had wound each day during the ordeal (14.83). This, along with a small chest found floating in the Pacific Ocean decades earlier, is the only remnant of that fateful journey.