The North Water Themes & Motifs

Ian McGuire
This Study Guide consists of approximately 38 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The North Water.
This section contains 1,393 words
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Survival

Desperation in the Darwinian struggle for survival can drive criminal behavior and mental illness, as the author makes clear in both the characters and plot lines of The North Water. The overriding theme, from the evils of Henry Drax to the innocent seals hunted by the crew of the Volunteer, is survival.

The survival instinct is inherent in all humans, but is perhaps less obvious in those with "respectable" positions in society, as opposed to people lower on the socioeconomic ladder (most of the characters in this novel).

Every character does what he considers necessary for survival. The surgeon Patrick Sumner joins the crew because he is adrift in his own life and in need of work for survival. Drax, the harpooner, rapes a young crewman and kills him with the same calculating dispatch he shows towards the seals because in his disordered character such behavior...

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This section contains 1,393 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The North Water Study Guide
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