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. How much can sperm whales weigh?

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

3. How long does it take the Essex to round Cape Horn in Chapter 4?

4. Which provisions does the crew of the Essex plan to purchase at the Azores?

5. What do scholars speculate might have caused the whale to attack the Essex?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is the main concern of the boats during the first few days after the sinking of the Essex?

2. How does the crew of the Essex deal with the second whale sighted in Chapter 3, and what is a Nantucket sleigh ride?

3. How is the Essex described in Chapter 1?

4. What complaint does the crew bring to Pollard at the end of Chapter 3, and how does he handle it?

5. What happens when the Essex meets the Aurora?

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

7. How are the three whale boats divided and stocked for the trip at the end of Chapter 6?

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

9. How does the crew initially respond to the sinking of the Essex?

10. How is a whale killed by sailors?

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

Captain Pollard's decision making abilities is the subject of Philbrick's criticism in the book.

1) Describe in detail three decisions that Pollard makes during the Essex's whaling trip as well as after it sinks and how those decisions are influenced.

2) Explain the role that Pollard's decisions have in the outcome of the trip and the survival of the crew.

3) Analyze Philbrick's position on Pollard's ability to make decisions and overrule his crew.

4) Compare the way Pollard handles a complaint from the crew with the other situations he must deal with.

Essay Topic 3

Herman Melville is inspired by the Essex to write one of the most well known books in literature.

1) Explain how Melville first learns of the Essex's voyage.

2) Describe Melville's experiences in whaling and how they contribute to his book.

3) Analyze the connection of the Essex to Moby Dick along with the similarities and differences in the two epic stories.

(see the answer keys)

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