The North Water Summary
Ian McGuire

Everything you need to understand or teach The North Water by Ian McGuire.

  • The North Water Summary & Study Guide

The North Water Overview

Ian McGuire's The North Water is a historical novel about adventure on a whaling trip set in 1859. Crews of these whaling ships were motley and included social misfits, mental defectives, criminals, and men trying to escape their land lives as well as those seeking their fortune in whale blubber. This suspenseful, convoluted story focuses on protagonist and ship's surgeon, Patrick Sumner, as well as a murderer named Henry Drax, a harpooner on the Volunteer. Their conflict becomes a murderous dance as the two men fight for survival against overwhelming natural and human challenges—a primitive struggle that is not resolved until the very last page of this thriller. The main themes in this book include survival, revenge, and the impact of changing technology.

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