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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is one of my favorite books!  In Chapter 4, Professor Sherman is settling into his journey and says "this was a truly enjoyable mode of life" (49).  But the seventh day is "catastrophic" (52). Professor Sherman spies land, which he had hoped to not see for at least a month.  Gulls appear, and  Professor Sherman dumps his garbage overboard to feed the gulls, but a gull retrieves the a turkey carcass and settles on the top of the balloon to eat it. The other gulls fight over the carcass.  One particularly fierce gull puts a hole in the balloon and is caught inside it.  Sherman loses altitude and starts throwing things overboard, hoping he can stay afloat, but finally realizes he will have to try to land on the island.  As though the situation were not terrible enough, he notices that a school of sharks is attracted by the food he has thrown overboard, and if he lands in the water, he will be immediately surrounded by sharks.  After he has thrown every possible item overboard, he disattaches his "house" from the balloon by cutting the strings and holding tight to the strings of the balloon, he is dragged ashore to the beach of a tiny island. He is so exhausted he sleeps and awakes burned by the sand.  That is where we find Professor Sherman as the book ends.