Study Guide

Ship Breaker Chapter 18

By Paolo Bacigalupi

Chapter 18

  • Tool finds easy work that pays well, but Nita and Nailer are left to beg, run messages, and carry small things.
  • A couple weeks pass. Nita pulls her weight, and Nailer admits that he's got her back: She's proved her worth. Sparks may be there, but they are pretty awkward sparks.
  • Nita has given Nailer and Tool names of the people they should look for and trust.
  • As Nailer's running a message, he sees his father scanning the docks with two half-men; frightened, Nailer throws himself off the boardwalk and hides underneath the floating dock.
  • Nailer peers through slats in the boardwalk as the three stand over him, dressed in new swank clothes—he knows he is lucky to have escaped his father's notice.
  • Once his father and the half-men leave, Nailer finds Nita. She knows that one of the clippers there is okay for her to approach, and Nailer tells him about his father and how Richard is probably connected to Pyce, Nita's father's enemy.
  • Nita still wants to chance it, but Nailer thinks it's too risky. They decide to check to see if the ship, Dauntless, has a captain Nita can trust.
  • Nailer and Nita head to where they've bedded down for the last few weeks. Nailer says they'll check out the ship in the evening.
  • When Tool still hasn't shown up, Nailer and Nita go out to look for him. Nita asks if Nailer would trade her for the gold, and he says he wouldn't because she's become crew.
  • Nita softens and says thank you, and then Nailer kisses her before he loses his nerve. Aw. Cute.
  • They see Tool approaching, and then the two half-men with Nailer's dad intercept him.
  • Nailer says they need to help Tool, but Nita tries to prevent him from going, so Nailer calls her cold, and then runs and yells to warn Tool anyway.
  • A vicious fight breaks out, and Nailer and Nita flee as they realize they can't do anything.
  • By the water, Nita apologizes, but Nailer still blames her. She says they need to get on the clipper, and Nailer decides that he's the one who should go, since she's too valuable. They plan to meet after at the place they've been sleeping.
  • Nailer swims to the ship and boards it in silence, eavesdropping on the captain's conversation.
  • The captain indicates that Pyce is an enemy, and Nailer thinks it's okay to approach him, so he calls out and tells the captain he has a message from Nita.
  • The captain doesn't believe him; he thinks Nita is dead. He tells the people under him to whip Nailer and throw him overboard.
  • The lieutenant turns to do so, and the captain shoots him in the back, explaining that the lieutenant was a spy for Pyce. That, Shmoopers, is what we call a close one.
  • The captain sends men to find Nita.

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