Study Guide

In the Heart of the Sea Chapter 3

By Nathaniel Philbrick

Chapter 3

First Blood

  • The Essex makes provisional stops at some small islands, picking up one additional whaleboat, though it's as rinky-dinky as they come.
  • They don't see their first whale until they "crossed the equator" (3.8). That one's a swing and a miss. They don't see their second whale for another three months.
  • This time, however, they're ready. The crew clambers into the three whaleboats and get ready for the first hunt.
  • Here's how it works: the officer on each whaleboat tracks the whale. From there, the harpooner snags it with a tethered harpoon, slowly wearing out the creature until it dies. Rinse and repeat.
  • Chase's harpooner, Benjamin Lawrence, has just missed his shot when suddenly "a second whale had come up beneath them," upturning their boat (3.25). The floating crewmembers are picked up and returned to the ship.
  • The crew gets another chance several days later. This time they make it count, killing the whale.
  • Now it's time for the nasty stuff: stripping the whale of its blubber, draining it of oil, etc, etc. It's a gross process. Seriously. So. Gross. This takes "as long as three days" (3.39).
  • Some time later, the crew spots a penguin.
  • Meanwhile, the crew is getting increasingly angsty. Why? They're mad that the officers get way more (and way tastier) food than they do. They confront Pollard about this.
  • Although Pollard is normally nicer than Santa Claus, he loses his lid this time, shouting and stomping "in a fury" (3.56).
  • Needless to say, the crewmembers don't get any extra food.

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