46 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1838

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Chapter 20-End NoteChapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 20 Summary

While the Jane Guy lies at anchor, the sailors load up on provisions, taking ducks, tortoises, and shellfish, along with the sea cucumbers. Too-wit agrees to help the sailors erect a building in which they can cure the sea cucumbers, in exchange for stipulated quantities of goods from Europe and America. Quoting at length from an unnamed modern history of South Sea voyages, Pym describes the biche de mer in great detail. Three sailors agree to stay on the island to help with the construction; after a month, the crew of the Jane Guy prepares to leave.

Pym reflects on how welcoming, generous, and polite the villagers were and insists that the crew had no reason to doubt Too-wit’s intentions. As the sailors walk to the village for a formal goodbye gathering, they pass through a rocky, uneven ravine with high walls. Pym, Peters, and a man named Wilson Allen stop to examine a fissure in the rock wall. Suddenly, a massive explosion knocks them all unconscious.

Chapter 21 Summary

Pym awakens, buried in a mound of loose earth. He frees himself and then helps free Peters. Allen was killed in the blast, and they are forced to abandon his body.