Study Guide

Ship Breaker Greed

By Paolo Bacigalupi


Gimme gimme gimme… It may seem childish, but greed is pretty major player in the lives of several characters in Ship Breaker. It isn't just limited to the rich folks on top, though. Since money is a way to move up in status, lower-class characters are just as susceptible to it. For instance, while Nailer wants to get his Lucky Strike and get out of his dead end job, he's not willing to sacrifice his morality to do it, whereas his dad is willing to give up, and even kill, his own son for money and drugs.

Unlike the real world, though, at least in the book the greediest and most immoral characters get their comeuppance. It might be fiction, but we'll take it.

Questions About Greed

  1. How does Nailer reconcile his desire for a different life with his morality?
  2. Who is the greediest character in the novel, and what makes you say this? How about the least greedy character, and why?
  3. Is there a difference between greed for the sake of wealth alone and greed to improve one's life circumstances? Why do you think this?
  4. How did/does greed cause the destruction of the natural world in the novel?

Chew on This

Unless Nailer is greedy, he can never move up in society.

It's okay for people to be greedy in the novel, like Nailer and Pima, as long as they don't act on it.

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