Study Guide

Ship Breaker Chapter 23

By Paolo Bacigalupi

Chapter 23

  • Reynolds is against the idea of sailing into the Teeth but has no better idea.
  • They unfurl the high sails and the ship speeds up; the Pole Star does the same. Nailer worries that the Pole Star will sink the Dauntless, but the captain says that the captain of the Pole Star is greedy and would rather take them alive.
  • Reynolds still questions the plan, and Nailer says that even though he hasn't sailed it, he can get them through a gap in the Teeth.
  • The ocean gets much rougher and storm clouds gather. Dauntless sails through the storm, and the crew has to deal with malfunctioning equipment. The captain has to cut a parasail that might have given them an advantage later.
  • When night falls, the captain steers them closer to the coast to begin their deception.
  • Once more the captain asks Nailer if he's sure of the Teeth, and Nailer gives him an honest answer: Yes in clear weather, less so in the storm.
  • Nailer searches for the island and realizes that they're too far off. They need to go back.
  • As they turn, they founder, and the Pole Star sails beside them, though Dauntless avoids the ship and its boarders.
  • They shoot the gap of the Teeth and settle into the bay. Nailer thinks he miscalculated and that the Pole Star will shoot the gap as well…
  • But when the Pole Star follows them, she gets caught up on the Teeth.
  • Captain Candless and the crew launch the boats to go board the foundering Pole Star.
  • Nailer's launch reaches the Pole Star and they board. The captain throws a woman overboard and asks the Pole Star to surrender, but he gets shot. The battle is on as the ship begins to sink.
  • Nailer loses his gun and Reynolds tells him to get Nita, so armed with his knife, Nailer is off.
  • Nailer goes beneath the ship to find Nita, approaching people who are trying to staunch the flow of water into the ship. One sees him, so Nailer flees.
  • Fighting the rising waters and the tilting ship, Nailer continues his search, winding up in the hydrofoil room, where reflects that he may die, but at least he can read.
  • Suddenly he hears his father's voice. Nailer turns, and his dad, high like usual, has Nita, bound and gagged and over his shoulder, with a machete in his hand.
  • Nailer says to let Nita go, but Richard says he's going to take her as scavenge and sell her to people who harvest organs.
  • Then Richard attacks his son. And Nailer loses his knife. Uh oh.
  • Nailer dashes for the mechanical room, and his father gives chase, so Nailer climbs the gears to try to hide from the machete his father wields, but his father climbs after him.
  • When his father approaches with the machete, Nailer sees the lever that causes the gears to move. He reads the label and asks his dad one more time to let him go. Richard says no, and Nailer pulls the lever and jumps free as the gears begin to move and crush Richard.

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