Six Degrees: From Alm-Öhi to Captain Nemo
Last week for Six Degrees of Kool Books we had two great books featured, Heidi, which J.L. Mbewe wrote about and The Rainbow Garden, which Jenelle Schmidt discussed. While I’ve not read either of them, they both sound like wonderful books and I hope I will be able to read them one day. Of the two, Heidi was the one I had heard of before and the one I decided to connect from with today’s selection.
I wasn’t aware that there was an invalid girl in the story, but I did know about the grumpy grandfather, known as “Alm-Öhi” which I think means “Alps-grandfather.” J.L. described him as “cantankerous” and “wanting nothing to do with people.” That description brought to mind one of the most enigmatic characters in all of literature, Captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I don’t think I’ve read about a character with a more sour and stubborn disposition. Where Alm-Öhi lives remotely in his little mountain home, Captain Nemo has taken his isolationism to the extreme by choosing to wander the depths of the ocean, swearing off all contact with the human race above.
Unlike Alm-Öhi, Captain Nemo never softens or changes his ways. He remains a bitter, haunted man until the very last page of Verne’s book which makes him a very tragic figure and the book a rather melancholy read. Still, it’s a classic worth reading if nothing else for the imaginative way in which Verne describes the adventures of the Nautilus and its crew and the exotic environments through which it passes. While most of those passengers remain unnamed and as enigmatic as Nemo himself, the story’s narrator and his two companions provide us with a window into that undersea world.
Pierre Aronnax is the main protagonist, a French naturalist who is drawn to Nemo and the Nautilus as a moth to the flame. He is fascinated by knowledge and discovery, dutifully cataloging every fish and natural formation the Nautilus comes across. Though good natured, he’s a bit uptight and comes across as stiff at times. He is the classic professor type dragged into an adventure that is a bit more than he had bargained for, but which he nonetheless finds himself giddily excited over at times.
Consiel is Monsieur Arronax’s faithful companion and servant. He seems to have no motivations or concerns outside of the well-being and success of his master’s endeavors. Though he says little in this book, he occasionally provides a bit of comic relief with the extent to which he is welling to hurl himself into danger if for no other reason than to die alongside his master.
Ned Land is the other companion of M. Arronax to join them in their captivity aboard the Nautilus. He is clearly the least happy about their predicament and becomes more and more open about his desire to escape the ship as the story goes on. A Canadian harpooner with perfect vision and excellent marksmanship skills, Ned can be a bit of a hot head at times, but he is honest enough and he seems to be the most grounded of the three companions, possessing a sort of common man’s wisdom.
Oddly enough, those are the only three characters besides Nemo really worth mentioning in this book! There are some minor characters who make brief appearances, but the book focuses almost exclusively on these three and Nemo. I hope that doesn’t make it too hard to choose for the next round, but I tried to give a little more description about these characters to make up for the lack of choice.
Hope you find it “smooth sailing” if you decide to post your own entry next week in the Kool Books series!