Study Guide

Ship Breaker Chapter 1

By Paolo Bacigalupi

Chapter 1

  • Nailer crawls through an old oil tanker's belly to collect copper wiring for his crew. As he resurfaces on the deck, people around him are tearing apart the oil tanker, scavenging it for parts.
  • Sloth, one of his crewmates, razzes him for taking too long while they take the wire to make a profit.
  • As they work, Nailer watches the modern new clipper ships and thinks about how they are replacing the old ships that he's working on; he longs to sail on a clipper, but knows that it's unlikely he ever will.
  • Pima tells Nailer and Sloth to get moving and rags on Nailer for taking too long as they strip the wires. When Sloth offers to go in Nailer's place, Pearly, another crewmember, defends Nailer's work.
  • The crew boss, Bapi, comes. Nailer is jealous that Bapi is so well-fed; enough food is a luxury Nailer doesn't have.
  • Bapi's a strict taskmaster because he was once light crew before he worked his way up to manager.
  • Bapi tells Nailer to go back to the wreck and get as much wire as he can because a storm is coming and Bapi wants the crew to strip the wire on the beach. When Nailer hesitates, Bapi threatens to replace him.
  • Some back and forth about each other's dads—Nailer's is a lazy backstabbing bum, for the record—and then Nailer heads back in.

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