Study Guide

In the Heart of the Sea Greed

By Nathaniel Philbrick


Scrooge McDuck would feel right at home in the city of Nantucket. Though devoutly Quaker, Nantucketers aren't going to let silly things like ethics or morality get in the way of the almighty dollar bill. Sometimes that means under-supplying their whaling ships to pinch pennies. Sometimes that means exploiting workers for little to no pay. And sometimes it's as simple as wiping out entire ecosystems for a quick cash infusion. Although this greed remains unchecked for the bulk of In the Heart of the Sea, there's one thing you can be certain of—what goes around, comes around.

Questions About Greed

  1. Does greed contribute to the Essex disaster? Explain.
  2. In what ways do Nantucketers' business practices contradict their Quaker values?
  3. What are the consequences of wiping out the local whale population around Nantucket?
  4. What causes Nantucket's economic decline?

Chew on This

The exploitative labor practices employed by Nantucket whalers are completely contradictory to their avowed Quaker values.

By shortchanging the Essex on both food and repairs, the owners of the Essex made disaster all but inevitable.