Study Guide

In the Heart of the Sea Visions of Nantucket

By Nathaniel Philbrick

Visions of Nantucket

Nantucket is a tiny town with big ambitions. Stuck roughly twenty-six miles from the mainland of the United States, the town grows from an insignificant, isolated colony into the whaling capital of the world. Talk about movin' on up. Ultimately, however, Nantucket is a city built on contradictions, which is a shaky foundation for any economic empire. Although the disastrous journey depicted in In the Heart of the Sea doesn't directly lead to the city's downfall, it's easy to see it as the first step toward Nantucket's inevitable decline.

Questions About Visions of Nantucket

  1. Why are Nantucketers so hostile toward outsiders?
  2. Is Nantucket a "feminist" town? Explain.
  3. How does Quakerism shape Nantucket culture?
  4. Why do primarily Nantucketers survive the Essex disaster?

Chew on This

Nantucket's status as one of America's first "feminist" towns is, in part, attributable to the nature of the whaling business.

While Nantucketers' intense sense of community can be positive thing, it also inevitably leads to hostility toward outsiders.