Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Text used: Dell Publishing Co., Inc.
Laurel-Leaf Library  1980
ISBN: 0-440-96132-7

For Wikipedia information on Paula Fox go here.

Please do NOT contact me for answers to Chapter or Test questions. Your request will not be answered.



Chapter Five: Nicholas Spark walks on water



to bear







to devise

brazen platter












On board a slave ship
  1. The title of the chapter is Nicholas Spark Walks on Water. However, that event only takes place towards the end of the chapter. Why do you think the author selected this title for the chapter?
  2. Why do the members of the crew tell dreadful stories to each other as The Moonlight sails away from the Bight of Benin?
  3. "Is there no cure for such a disease?" I asked.
    "None," replied Ned. "No more than there's a cure for man himself."
    What does Ned mean with that?
  4. "The African was tempted and then became depraved by a desire for the material things offered him by debased traders. It's all the Devil's work."
    Explain what Ned is trying to tell Jessie. Is Ned a hypocrite?
  5. "Why I was chagrinned in one instance and hilarious in another, I don't know," says Jessie. Can you explain his behaviour?
  6. "I played against the wind, the movement of the ship and my own self-disgust," says Jessie. In that short statement he sums up what he has to fight against. Explain.
  7. Why does Jessie begin to hate the slaves.
  8. After the beating he has received, Jessie is no longer the same person. How has he changed.
  9. Towards the end of the chapter, Ned falls ill. He has "a touch of death", he tells Jessie. What do you think he is suffering from?
  10. "Haven't you heard of the wages of sin?" he asked in a quavering voice. "Did you think they were gold?" What does Ned mean.
  11. Why does the captain throw Nicholas Spark overboard?
  12. At the end of the chapter, the crew, including Jessie, as well as the ship itself have badly deteriorated. Explain how this happened by listing some of the causes and telling how they affected mind and body. What is main cause?

On Edge

On board The Moonlight, Jessie has to live with an unbearable amount of tension. Tension means "mental or nervous strain." It comes from the Latin word tendere, meaning "to stretch." Ten other words that have tendere as their root are listed below. See if you can use them correctly in the sentences that follow.











  1. The _____ reason why the captain shot his First Mate was the profit motive. (apparent)
  2. In the story, the storm was a _____ that trouble was brewing. (sign, omen)
  3. The _____ crew was always fighting among them-selves. (argumentative)
  4. Jessie had a _____ to get very nervous before playing the pipe. (inclination)
  5. Ned _____ that the slave trade was sinful. (declared)
  6. A display of _____ wealth was definitely not one of the personal characteristics of captain Cawthorne. (marked by showy display)
  7. Purvis' _____ of indifference fooled no one. (false show)
  8. The captain had an _____ look on his face as he tried to solve the problem. (intense)
  9. They had eaten so much that their stomachs were _____. (swollen)
  10. Ned's _____ of being better and holier than the other members of the crew, made him very unpopular. (claims of importance or excellence)

Figures in the Round

Paula Fox has the knack for creating characters that are not just one-dimensional figures. By showing more than one side of her characters' personalities, she makes them seem well rounded or realistic.

These realistic portraits are not only a challenge to the author but to the reader as well. As in dealing with real people, the reader must decide how to merge into one personality many different - even contradictory - traits.


Some statements about the personalities of the characters in The Slave Dancer follow. Give evidence from the book to first support the statement (pro). Then contradict the statement (con).

Finally, based on that evidence, draw your own conclusion that explain the character's nature.

An example has been done for you.


Jessie is brave.

  1. Pro: He takes his beating bravely.
  2. Con: He is very much afraid of playing his pipe.
  3. Your conclusion: He is afraid of his own feelings but stands up well when he gets beaten, turning into a different person.
  1. Jessie hates the slaves.
  2. Jessie is reckless.
  3. Clay Purvis is narrow-minded.
  4. Clay Purvis is naive and ignorant.
  5. Ned Grime is a hypocrite.
  6. Captain Cawthorne is reckless.
  7. Captain Cawthorne knows his business.
  8. Benjamin Stout is good to Jessie.


On step further

Rate a fictional character, either from literature, TV, or the movies. First give the name of the character, then for each of the following character traits, answer with a never, seldom, sometimes, often or always and provide evidence for your answer.

  1. Acts unwisely.
  2. Is compassionate.
  3. Shows a good sense of humour.
  4. Is moral.
  5. Becomes angry

Is this character well rounded? Explain your answer.

Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Chapter 7 - Chapter 8 - Chapter 9