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 water is each man given per day as the crew attempts to make it to land in Chapter 7?

2. Why is the crew concerned about the Marquesas?

3. What is the name given to the event of a harpooned whale dragging a boat at high speeds?

4. What is the crew hoping for as they enter the Offshore Grounds?

5. While repairing the Essex's leak, what else do the men gather in Chapter 4?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why does the crew decide not to wait for another whale ship in the Offshore Ground?

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

3. What happens when the Essex meets the Aurora?

4. How is the Essex described in Chapter 1?

5. What events take place on Hood Island at the end of Chapter 4?

6. As stated in the Preface, when, where, and why are sperm whales hunted?

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

8. How is Nantucket described in Chapter 1?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Foreshadowing is a major part of the first half of the book. Provide an analysis of three examples of foreshadowing, when they occur, and the events that they are signaling.

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

Describe the first two encounters with a whale that the crew of the Essex has, including a detailed description of the Nantucket sleigh ride. Also, provide an explanation of why this is a significant point in the story and what it indicates for the different members of the crew.

(see the answer keys)

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