Study Guide

In the Heart of the Sea Choices

By Nathaniel Philbrick


Being an officer on a whaleship like the Essex requires fine-tuned decision-making skills. Unfortunately, that's one quality poor Captain Pollard lacks. Still, it's hard to place the blame solely on Pollard for everything that goes on during that fateful trip in In the Heart of the Sea—after all, equal blame must be placed on the shoulders of his ambitious mates, Owen Chase and Matthew Joy. In the end, however, it doesn't matter who actually made the poor choices that led to that tragic day—all that matters are the consequences.

Questions About Choices

  1. Who makes better choices: Captain Pollard or Owen Chase?
  2. Why is Pollard such a poor leader?
  3. Does Chase deserve to become a captain after the Essex disaster? Explain.
  4. How does Chase's ambition get in the way of making the right choices?

Chew on This

Although Owen Chase is blamed for many of the failures leading up to the Essex disaster, the fault for these poor choices rests on the captain's shoulders.

Although one can blame Pollard for failing to stick up for his beliefs, the fault for the sinking of the Essex rests on Owen Chase and his poor choices.