The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym

What is Arthur giving up in order to become a sailor on Augustus’ father’s ship and what must he do in order to realize his plans?

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Arthur Gordon Pym, the narrator of his tale of a sea expedition gone terribly awry, is a young man from a respectable background who has a rather melancholy disposition. He becomes interested in the sea and is stowed away on a ship by his friend Augustus, whose father is the captain of the voyage.

Pym was born in Nantucket, his father was a respectable businessman and his grandfather an attorney. He attends school in New Bedford at a young age, then at sixteen goes to the academy of E. Ronald. There he meets the son of a sea captain named Augustus Barnard. They become great friends.

He learns that Mr. Barnard, Augustus's father, is set to command a ship called the Grampus on a whaling voyage. Pym is elated and desires to get onboard, but his mother falls into hysterics and his grandfather vows to cut him off if he goes. Pym and Augustus concoct a plan which entails sending a letter to Pym's family that says Pym will be staying with friends for a period of time; in reality, Pym will hide aboard the ship until it is too far out to turn around.

The time finally comes to depart, and Pym's plan appears to have worked. On the night appointed for Pym's hiding onboard he and Augustus make their way to the ship. They encounter Pym's grandfather on the street, but Pym disguises his voice in the darkness and the grandfather believes himself mistaken in having seen his grandson.

Augustus takes Pym onboard the Grampus through his stateroom down a trap into the hold. They make their way through a long narrow passage in the crowded hold to a box behind which he has a hiding place. It was comfortable and well provisioned and Pym is happy to stay there until Augustus comes to fetch him. Augustus bids him farewell and Pym takes possession of his new abode.