In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Nathaniel Philbrick
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What do the men do in order to prevent water from splashing over the edges of the remaining boats?

2. Compared to the other seventy Nantucket whale ships, how is the Essex considered?

3. What happens when Chase's boat attempts to approach a whale on November 16?

4. How many men are in the small boat when it is first mentioned in the preface?

5. After being damaged in the storm, who encourages Pollard to continue with the trip instead of returning to Nantucket?

Short Essay Questions

1. How is Nantucket described in Chapter 1?

2. How successful is the Essex off the coast of Peru?

3. How is a whale killed by sailors?

4. What are the first difficulties that the Essex experiences at the end of Chapter 2?

5. How is the Essex described in Chapter 1?

6. What are some of the facts that Philbrick discloses about the sinking of the Essex in the Preface?

7. What happens when the Essex tries to leave Nantucket?

8. How does the crew of the Essex decide to sail towards South America instead of the Society Islands?

9. What happens when the first whale of the trip is sighted?

10. What is the process for "trying out" a whale?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In the Preface, a general background of whaling is provided by Philbrick.

1) Describe the purpose of the Preface and the literary reasons for the information it includes.

2) Explain why sailors from Nantucket hunted whales and how the whales are typically killed.

3) Analyze the sperm whales as they are presented in the Preface along with why they are specifically targeted by whalers.

Essay Topic 2

Describe the way that Philbrick conveys the desperation of the men as they get farther away from the sunken ship. Provide multiple examples of how he uses literature in order to emphasize the severity of their situation and their inclination to surrender. Also, analyze the way that Philbrick simultaneously engages the reader along the way with signs of hope and optimism.

Essay Topic 3

Nature is a main element of the book and the Essex's voyage. Explain three examples of the effects that nature has on the story and the trip. Include an analysis of how the crew responds to nature and how their responses also have an effect on the book's themes.

(see the answer keys)

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