Why do sailors fear the island?

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Sailors fear "Ship-Trap Island" because, according to Whitney, they are superstitious and feel as though their ship will succumb to it. Whitney states that “sailors have a curious dread of the place” and that the island has a bad reputation. He claims to feel a mental chill…a sudden dread” as they near it. Rainsford dismisses these claims and feels nothing towards the island. Later, Rainsford learns that it actually is outfitted to “tap” boats and that the sailors' fears were not unfounded. There are actually horrific occurrences on the island, and sailors should beware.

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