Study Guide: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

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CHAPTER 6: “Full Steam Ahead”


In the water there was phosphorescence that had been described by many other people who encountered the creature. The monster continued to give off light. It was much faster than the ship and swam around it and under it. The captain, fearsome of risking his ship against an unidentifiable creature, decided not to attack it but to wait for morning.

Ned Land told the captain that the creature made the same sounds as whales, yet much louder. When the creature appeared again in the daylight, Aronnax was able to observe it more closely. The creature was black and 250 feet in length. The water shooting from the creature’s blowholes reached about 120 feet high.

At Land’s suggestion, the ship continued full steam ahead, hoping to get close enough for Land to harpoon it. Five hundred dollars was offered to the man who could shoot the beast. A three hundred mile chase ensued; the only shot to hit the creature bounced off, as though it was coated in an iron case.

The monster disappeared, then later reappeared. Ned Land was able to hit it with a harpoon causing two enormous columns of water to fall over the deck of the ship. The Abraham Lincoln rocked violently. Pierre Aronnax was thrown into the sea.

CHAPTER 7: “An Unknown Species of Whale”


Aronnax became frightened in the water, afraid the ship would leave having not noticed his fall. He was saved by the ever-faithful Conseil, who jumped in after him. The screw and the rudder of the ship were damaged by the monster. Conseil informed Aronnax that the Abraham Lincoln had lost its ability to steer.

Aronnax and Conseil removed their clothes, which hindered their swimming, and took turns swimming and pulling the other man in an effort to locate the Abraham Lincoln which they believed had not noticed their disappearance. In desperation Conseil called out for help, after hours of swimming. The men were greeted with the reply of Ned Land.

Ned Land had also been thrown from the ship. He landed upon the creature, which he found was made of steel. Land pulled Aronnax and Conseil aboard the creature. The creature, it seemed, was a submarine. Land said that on the three hours he was on it, the boat did not move at all.

The vessel began to move, slowly at first, then gaining speed. Through the night the men clutched the top of the boat, attempting not to fall off. Ned Land stomped on the top of the boat upon day break. Eight men appeared and pulled Land, Aronnax and Conseil into the vessel.

CHAPTER 8: “Mobilis in Mobile”


The men found themselves, alone, in a dark space. After half an hour, the cabin was illuminated by the electric white light, previously observed while on the Abraham Lincoln. Two men entered the chamber, dressed in sea-otter-skin and seal skin. They spoke a language that Aronnax could not understand. Aronnax, Land and Conseil relayed their tale in French, English, German, and Latin. The men understood nothing they said. They left the three alone again.

A steward returned with clothes and food. The food, much to their surprise, was excellent. The plates and utensils were inscribed with the motto: “Mobilis in Mobile N.” Still confused, the three men went to sleep.

CHAPTER 9 “Ned Land’s Fits of Anger”


Upon waking, Aronnax began to examine his surroundings. He pondered how the air was filtered and replaced to ensure that enough oxygen is present. He discovered an opening over the door of the cell, through which he presumed fresh air entered. As the men discussed their next meal and how long they slept, Aronnax tried to dispel Land’s fear that the men of the vessel were cannibals.

Land became angered by Conseil’s abiding calm. He wanted Conseil to become as angry as himself and demand to be fed, as they were all hungry again. Land continued in his fit of rage, saying that he thought it was best to try to take over the vessel--much to the dismay of Aronnax and Conseil. Land promised he would do nothing rash immediately.

As the time passed and the men grew hungrier, Land grew fiercer. He paced the cell and screamed. When, at last, the steward appeared, Land attacked him and grabbed his throat. Conseil was helping to save the steward from Land and as Aronnax began to help, he was greeted with French, asking them to calm themselves and listen.

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