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

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Chapter Seven: Ben Stout's Mistake

J.M.W.Turner: Slavers throwing overboard the Dead and Dying - Typhoon coming on (The Slave Ship), 1840 90 x122cm Boston Museum of Fine Arts












to fathom

to persuade





to haunt


to heel over

to yaw

to lurch

to croon





  1. Explain why the Captain wants the slaves and crew members to dress up.
  2. Jessie describes the Captain's dancing as "dreadfully graceful". Explain how the captain can be graceful and dreadful at the same time.
  3. Stout thinks he sees a British ship and the Captain orders the Spanish flag down and the American flag up. Why does he do that?
  4. Then the Captain realizes that the ship is American and he shouts: "Stout! You've murdered me!" Why does he say that?
  5. Why do they throw the slaves overboard?
  6. It is quite a distance from Cuba to the Louisiana coast, where the ship is wrecked. How come the ship gets there so fast?

On Your Own

Jessie doesn't have much solitude on board The Moonlight. Solitude means "the state of being alone, seclusion." It is derived from the Latin word solus meaning "alone". Below are ten other words spawned by solus. See if you can use them correctly in the sentences that follow.











  1. In the end, Ned, talking to himself in his madness, seemed to be performing a _____ (dramatic monologue)
  2. Playing cat's cradle, Purvis often played _____ . (any game played by one person)
  3. Few people have sailed _____ across the oceans. (journey made by a pilot alone, without any assistant)
  4. Hiding in the hold, the two boys tried to _____ themselves from the fury of the storm. (set apart)
  5. Jessie reacted in a _____ way when Stout insulted him. (resentfully silent)
  6. Because sick slaves could not be placed in _____ , disease spread rapidly. (without the company of others)
  7. Wrecked on the shore, The Moonlight was left in _____. (a ruinous state)
  8. On board the ship, Jessie felt himself _____ from the others, most of the time. (separated from others)
  9. In the end, the slaves no longer protested their _____ . (state of separation)
  10. Thinking he was going to die, Jessie was _____ . (joyless through separation from loved ones

Battle Lines

American warship

Growing up for Jessie means meeting a number of challenges and facing some painful realities. The horrible period on board the slave ship is filled with conflict, both those he experiences and those he witnesses.

Conflict, or the clash of opposing forces, is a vital part of most plots. Five types of conflict are defined below.

  1. character vs. character - the character faces a problem with one or more other characters in the story.
  2. character vs. self - the character faces a physical or emotional problem or struggle.
  3. character vs. society - the character faces a problem with a part of society (government, school, tradition, authority, etc.).
  4. character vs nature - the character faces a problem with some force of nature (cold, storm, etc.).
  5. character vs fate - the character faces a problem with a force such as fate or luck.


List one conflict that arises in each of the following situations. Though some episodes may have more than one type of conflict, you need list only one. (A chapter reference is given in parenthesis after each situation if you need to refer to the book.)


Jessie is taken to The Moonlight. (Chapter: The Errand)

a. Conflict: Fate
b. Claudius Sharkey and some other members of the crew kidnap Jessie.

  1. Jessie meets the crew of The Moonlight. (The Moonlight)
  2. Jessie is "interviewed" by the Captain. (The Moonlight)
  3. Jessie's description of the ship. (The Moonlight)
  4. Jessie finds out the purpose of the voyage. (The Shrouds)
  5. Jessie's behaviour during the rain squall. (The Shrouds)
  6. The flogging of Purvis. (The Shrouds)
  7. Jessie's fear of fire. (The Bight of Benin)
  8. Jessie's discussion with Purvis about the slave trade. (The Bight of Benin)
  9. Jessie plays his pipe to make the slaves dance. (Nicholas Spark Walks on Water)
  10. Jessie finds out he hates the slaves. (Nicholas Spark Walks on Water)

On step further

Think back through the book. Decide which type of conflict has occurred most often in the novel. Write down five examples of this conflict from previous chapters. Then explain why this type of conflict is so prominent in the story.

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