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.

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Chapter Three: The Shrouds











knot (2x)

poop deck

to fetch

to heave

to mend




cane stalks

to brood


rain squall





to holystone





to splice a rope



to plead









Climbing the shrouds
  1. Why is this chapter called "The Shrouds"?
  2. What things does Jessie learn in this chapter?
  3. Why is Jessie no longer paying much attention to Ned Grime's pretense of aloofness?
  4. How fast is 14 knots in kilometers?
  5. Under what circumstances is the captain willing to take in sail?
  6. Why has Jessie difficulties getting used to life on a ship?
  7. What does Jessie experience during the rain squall? What does Purvis do to help him?
  8. Why does Jessie mistrust Stout, who is nice to him, and trusts Purvis who's rough with him?
  9. During the night, one of the sailors moves around, his head wrapped in cloth. Who is it? What does he do? Why does he do it? What are the consequences? Why does no one betray him, including Purvis?
  10. Add further personality traits to your list of main characters.


No Turning Back

When Jessie gets kidnapped his life is irreversibly changed. The word irreversible means "capable of either going backward or forward". The word is a combination of the negative prefix -ir- and the Latin words revertere and reversare which means, respectively, "to turn back" and "to turn around". Ten other words deriving from these Latin words are listed below. See if you can use them correctly in the sentences that follow.











  1. The whipping Purvis received, had an _____ effect on his health. (unfavourable)
  2. Neither fish nor whales are _____ . (animals that have no no column, or backbone)
  3. The captain didn't ask anyone for his _____ of what had happened. (opinion)
  4. Even if someone had talked, Purvis was convinced that the captain wouldn't have _____ his decision to give him a whipping. (changed)
  5. When the ship became becalmed, the sailors _____ to their habit of constant arguing. (went back)
  6. The sailors on a ship must possess great _____ . (quality of having a variety of skills)
  7. Many sailors wear _____ coats. (wearable with either side out)
  8. It would be impossible for a slave ship to _____ its cargo. (call attention to one s business or service with a paid, printed notice)
  9. The sails on a ship roll _____ down . (lengthwise)
  10. When Jessie climbed into the mast he experienced a serious attack of _____ . (disordered state in which the individual or his surroundings seems to swirl dizzily)

Figurative Language

To give their language power and colour, writers use figurative language, or figures of speech The Slave Dancer is particularly rich in such figures of speech such as metaphors, similes and personification or hyperboles which the author uses to describe Jessie's new environment

A metaphor is an implied comparison. That means that the comparison is not really state directly. For example: "My dad is a bear."

A simile is a comparison that uses "like" or "as". For example "Bob runs like a deer". or "She's as sweet as candy."

A personification gives human characteristics to objects or events. For example (from the chapter): "daylight was being born".

A hyperbole is a deliberate and wild exaggeration. For example: "I've told you a million times!"


Decide if each of the following is a metaphor (M) a simile (S), a personification (P), or a hyperbole (H).


  1. Jessie found out quickly that the sailors didn't smell like Sunday morning.
  2. A gull like a puff of smoke flew across the bow.
  3. The smell of the ship had been nourished by darkness.
  4. Jessie's knees turned to pudding.
  5. Jessie curled up like a worm.
  6. "We'll have a ship full of royalty," said the Captain.
  7. Purvis opened his mouth so wide he looked like an alligator.
  8. "What a fearful runt, shouted the Captain.
  9. The hammock curled around Jessie like a peapod.
  10. Stout claimed that the ship was speaking to him.
  11. "I'm a neat packer!" roared the Captain. "As neat as a pin."
  12. "I stack them up like flannel cakes."
  13. "You're as deaf as a post!" Purvis exclaimed.
  14. Jessie knew that if he didn't do as he was told, he'd get skinned.
  15. Every fear found in hell was in Jessie's mind.
  16. The tears fell in rivers down Jessie's face.

One Step Further

Now try inventing your own examples of hyperbole, simile, metaphor and personification. Do not use expressions you have heard before.

Example: The ship

Simile: The Ship was tossed around in the storm like a ball in a swimming pool full of children

Personification: The sky hung so low that the masts of the ship seemed to scratch the sky.

Metaphor: To Jessie the ship was nothing but a chariot of doom.

Hyperbole: The wind drove the ship with the speed of a thunderbolt.

  1. Jessie
  2. The Captain
  3. The ocean
  4. Loneliness

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