Historical Information about the period of publication or setting of novel: There truly is no connection between the actual date of publication and what the novel dealt with. The only true historical piece of information that intertwines with the date of publication is that the book came out after the incident of the whaleship sinking, and the documents being found. There is rich history behind the setting of the novel; The noel takes place back in the olden (1819) days of the tiny island known as Nantucket. It also takes place all across the Atlantic Ocean, and Pacific Ocean. The novel also takes place at the continent of South America and the continent of North America.
Biographical information about the Author: Nathaniel Philbrick would be born in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, on June 11th, 1956; However, he would be raised in the city of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He would earn his degrees at Brown University. Nathaniel would later move to the small island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. He would publish two books here called: Away off Shore and Abrams Eyes. His book in the Heart of the Sea would help him win a National Book Award for non-fiction in the year 2000. Philbrick would later come out with award winning books called: Mayflower, Valiant Ambition, A City a Siege, and many other best sellers. Nathaniel is still writing and is happily living in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
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Characteristic of the genre: The main characteristic that help fit this historical novel are Nautical, Informative, and Adventure. These characteristics of the genre fit because the setting is mainly on the water in a ship, the characters are all on an adventure to capture and kill sperm whales, the book is based on historical and true factual evidence. This is why these characteristics fit the genre of this novel.
Summary of the author’s argument or information: The author first starts out with explain how the people on the island of Nantucket lived. He would give excerpts of how the women lived for months to even years at a time without seeing their loved ones because they were out hunting for whales for their oil. The author also goes to explain the rich history the island and how its only has a few last names that can be traced back to the founding’s of the island. Those who do not have these last names are referred to as green hands. Philbrick would also go on to explain the daily lives of some of the Nantucket people. He would explain that boys would always become whale men, while girls took over the duties of running the island because the men were never there. The books mainly focus around very old documents and accounts of cabin boy named Thomas Nickerson. In the end of all this the book finally begins with the whaleship Essex leaving in 1819. The overall journey was expected to only last approximately 2-3 years. The ship would travel down the coastline of the continent of North America and would make its way to the Pacific-ocean. The ship is being led by a brand-new captain that goes by the name of George Pollard Jr. The ship manned by many crew members, but some of the more notable ones are: Matthew Joy, Owen Chase, Thomas Nickerson, and finally Owen Coffin. It is only after a couple pf days out on the sea that the whale ship hits a nasty fierce storm. During the storm, the ship was nearly toppled over. The captain wants to return to the island to repair the ship; However, he is persuaded by Joy and Chase to continue. While on their journey down North America the ship has no luck in finding any whales, that is until they passed the equator. The ship of Essex would start to find an abundance of whales once they passed the base of South America. Once they reached the Pacific the Essex was bound to go even deeper into the ocean away from the shore. There had been a recently discovered breeding ground that was 1,000’s of miles away from the shore. From here on the ship and crew of the Essex take the turn for the worst. While they were hunting a whale the sperm whale attacked and drastically damaged their boat. This would be a shocking event in all of mankind history as this would be the first recorded incident of a sperm whale attacking a ship manned with humans. One of the most fatal mistakes that would happen was when Chase failed to kill the whale when he had the chance. After this incident, the whaleship Essex would be undeniably un- usable and would be abandoned by the crew. The members would board the spare whale baits that they had. They decided that they would try to sail all the way back to South America. Captain Pollard had originally wanted to sail to the Society Islands, but was persuaded by Joy and Chase to sail all the way back to South America. Throughout this long vigorous journey, they would catch a very minimal amount of fish, and stumbled upon a tiny island while on their way. The small whale boat ships would be dispersed from each other. The sailors soon turn to cannibalism because of their starvation, and decide to kill Owen Coffin. This part of the novel took a very dark turn as it showed what these men were willing to do to survive. (Eating their own crew member) Five sailors would be rescued by the coast of South America, and of these five were: Pollard, Chase, and Nickerson. In the end, the tragedy of the whaleship Essex was not a kind and pleasant one. It even resulted in one of the crew members being killed and eaten. A journey that was supposed to be about killing whales for their oils became a fight for these sailor’s lives. In the end, the tragedy of the Whaleship Essex and its legacy still live on today.