Trust and Betrayal

Nailer lives in a difficult world. Born into one of the lowest social classes, Nailer’s life affords him few options. As ship breakers, the first priority for Nailer and his crew is always survival. As such, the temptation to betray each other is extremely strong; Sloth betrays Nailer to drown in oil so she can sell the oil and buy her way to freedom. In Nailer’s world, there is very little reason to trust anyone. In fact, considering that he has been betrayed by his father and his crewmate, it is impressive that Nailer chooses to trust others at all.

Nita comes from one of the highest social classes in Nailer’s world, but she too faces betrayal. Nita’s father has been betrayed by Pyce, one of his closest associates, and she is forced to sail into a hurricane to escape Pyce’s henchmen aboard Pole Star. When Nailer and Pima find Nita aboard her ship, all three are understandably slow to trust each other. In this world, trust is as scarce as oil.

However, Nailer and Nita do form a strong bond of trust. Initially, Nailer forces Nita to mix blood and to swear to become crew with him. However, Nailer learns that these oaths are not true trust. Instead, he starts to learn that shared experiences form stronger bonds. By the end of Ship Breaker, Nailer realizes that he considers Nita and Pima more his family than he does his father, Richard Lopez.

Class Conflict

Nailer lives in a desperate world. Many wonder if the people of Bright Sands Beach can survive if they live according to principles. Most swanks would argue that ship breakers like Nailer are corrupt through and through. However, Bacigalupi carefully deconstructs this stereotype.

He begins by showing the exceptions to the rule. Richard Lopez lives without any principle but survival, and his choices are often motivated by pain. Interestingly, he most strongly resembles Pyce, the man who betrayed Nita’s father. Meanwhile, Tool tells Nita that Sadna is worth one hundred of any swank he has ever met. Sadna values all people regardless of their background, even half men like Tool; she even...

(The entire section is 887 words.)