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2020 Group Reads - Archives > Arthur Gordon Pym Week 2: Chapters 6-12

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message 1: by Rosemarie, Moderator (last edited Jan 08, 2020 11:11AM) (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
A lot happens in these chapters-a mutiny, a swamped ship, hungry survivors, a plague ship, and more.
We also have a lot of nautical jargon in chapters 6 and 7 which may be important but really slows down the story.

Augustus has brought Arthur up to date on everything that happened while he was in the box.
What is their situation and how do they manage to outsmart the mutineers and survive?
How many survivors are there after the big storm? How many survivors are there at the end of chapter 12? Why?

Please discuss anything else that comes to mind as you read these chapters.
Can you tell that this book was written by Poe?
Any examples of irony?
Whatever happened to Tiger?


message 2: by Emma (last edited Jan 10, 2020 02:32AM) (new)

Emma (emmalaybourn) | 298 comments Rosemarie wrote: "We also have a lot of nautical jargon in chapters 6 and 7 which may be important but really slows down the story..."

I found the long passage about stowage (in chapter 6) to be actually quite interesting, although it certainly included far more detail than was necessary for the story. I suppose the detail gives the whole narrative an air of verisimilitude so that the reader is less likely to quibble about the possibility of more dramatic events later on.

It was quite a surprise for me to learn that Poe had very little experience of sea-faring - Wikipedia only mentions one short voyage. He writes of it with such assurance that I had assumed he had done a lot of sailing. I imagine he must have immersed himself in nautical books.


message 3: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
I didn't know that. He certainly writes as if he knew a lot about ships. And the information about the hold is important, since it affects future events in the book.


message 4: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1320 comments Mod
I guess, during that short voyage, his interest must have been piqued enough for him to make a lot of observations.

Yep, classic Poe was definitely present in this section, especially in the description of the plague ship, which was fantastically ghastly. The seagull was a great touch. He loved birds, and I do too! They can be beautiful and delicate, but they can also be grotesque and terrifying.

I was half-expecting and dreading a "cannibal" episode, especially after the seagull dropped the piece of sailor in front of Parker.

I was also wondering what happened to the dog. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't survive, considering pretty much everything was washed away in the storm. But I also won't be surprised if he shows up at just the right time, like he has twice already. I hope he does.

How did the tortoise survive? This wikipedia article says they are buoyant (but not good swimmers), but of course they can't breathe underwater. So was there just a bit of air left at the top of the space where the tortoise was kept so that it could still breathe? I had the impression everything was completely full of water, but it makes sense that there would be air pockets near the top.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gal%C3%...


message 5: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
I imagine there would have to be some air pockets in certain parts of the ship.


message 6: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1320 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I imagine there would have to be some air pockets in certain parts of the ship."

Hopefully Tiger is somewhere that has them (and some food). I suppose that would have been the only way he could have survived. But if he's still alive, I can see why Poe hasn't had him come out yet. He would have been as hungry as the guys...


message 7: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
Yes, he might have been eaten, or else....


message 8: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4467 comments Mod
I’ve still have two chapters to finished, but wanted to make some notes before I forget. The plague ship is said to be Dutch which brings to mind the ghost ship, The Flying Dutchmen. The dead bodies, besides being 100% Poe, can also be related to Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

The intro to my book told me what happens to a Tiger, but I won’t share at this time. The asides with the nautical information almost had me give up reading. They really interrupt the plot, and it feels badly timed to me as well. Ok. Headed to finished the next few chapters.


message 9: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4467 comments Mod
There’s a footnote in my copy re the tortoise. It’s improbable, of course, the it would survive the sea water. The information about this type of tortoise Poe took from Narrative of Four Voyages by Benjamin Morrell


message 10: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 270 comments The Plague Ship was scary. When it appeared I was expecting a ghost ship when was said that there were a lot of corpses and the captain(?) was waving.


message 11: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
The captain looked like he was moving but in reality birds were eating him, so he looked like he was moving. That part was pretty gross!


message 12: by Detlef (new)

Detlef Ehling | 63 comments The story line is interrupted a lot by technical descriptions of nautical things that elude me for the most part and don’t really contribute much to the story. It slows things down considerably.
The ghost ship certainly reminds me of “The Flying Dutchman”, pretty scary stuff.
At times I get the impression of a bit too much of a good thing. The protagonists are experiencing an extraordinary amount of adversity. But I guess that’s the whole point of the story.


message 13: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
It is a story by Poe after all.


message 14: by Brian (new)

Brian Reynolds | 701 comments Poe's descriptions of events at times escape my full comprehension, but the part about the ghost ship was well done. They ate the human meat raw, right? I too am glad he wasn't more descriptive of that act.


message 15: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
It was bad enough when the bird dropped a piece of the dead captain onto one of them.


message 16: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1816 comments Mod
Wow, this was a gruesome section. I was surprised that the cannibalism was glossed over once Arthur accepted it as inevitable-he spends all this time arguing against it and then eats his shipmate with hardly any comment or discussion of regrets or moral qualms.

Weirdly, I was much more affected by the thought of the Galapagos turtle being imprisoned and eaten than by the fate of the sailor. I guess our 21st century sensibilities around conservation/endangered species would be foreign to Poe.


message 17: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
I wasn't happy with the way they treated the turtle either. There certainly were some gruesome parts.


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