Study Guide

Ship Breaker What's Up With the Ending?

By Paolo Bacigalupi

What's Up With the Ending?

"What makes you think that some lower-deck grease monkey has a chance with a girl like that?"

"Beats me." Nailer glanced at Pima sidelong, then grinned. "Maybe I'll just get lucky."

"Oh yeah?" Pima grabbed him. "You think so?"

She tried to shove him into the sand, but Nailer ducked out of her grasp. He ran down the beach, laughing, and Pima chased after him.

Out on the bay, Dauntless continued its loading, surrounded by sunshine and waves. Beyond it, the blue sea stretched to the horizon, beckoning.

This is a surprisingly upbeat ending to a rather dark novel. It's hard to believe that most of the last chapter is taken up with Nailer agonizing about the decision he made to kill his own father. It's almost as if Bacigalupi wants to throw his readers a bone of hope at the last second so that we don't close the book and think, "What a downer."

And it's fitting that Nailer mentions luck, as he has come to believe that his efforts can have more of an influence on luck than he previously thought. Mostly he says it to needle Pima, though. Their relationship is as it's always been, and despite their adventures, they remain pretty much siblings, full of camaraderie and trust and the occasional attempt to get each other's goat.

There's also reference to the possibility of transcending class boundaries. Although a romance between Nailer and Nita isn't really explored in the novel, the last chapter alludes to a future relationship. This, too, fits with how Bacigalupi has upended the preconceptions both Nailer and Nita had about social status throughout the book. At the beginning of the book, swanks like Nita hold no value for Nailer and he doesn't believe he can rise above being a ship breaker. Now, though, he views Nita as a person and an equal, and he's proven her stereotypes of him wrong.

Finally, check out the last image: A clipper ship in sunshine and waves. It calls to Nailer; it's a picture full of light and hope and possibility. We know that the last page of the book isn't the end of Nailer's story, and we hope that he finds fulfillment of his dreams.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...