Why did the captain have Spark thrown overboard?

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hmassman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting question! In the book The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox, the captain ordered Nicholas Spark to be thrown overboard.

Before Spark was thrown overboard, Spark was attacked by one of the slaves on the ship. Spark could have been strangled by the slave, but one of his fellow crewmen intervened. Consequently, the slave was whipped to the point of unconsciousness. Despite the slave’s punishment, Spark later shot the slave who attacked him.

Consequently, the captain ordered Spark to be thrown overboard. Although Jessie did not initially understand the captain’s motives, the captain had his own selfish intentions. The captain did not want to lose profit by killing the slave that attacked Spark. From the captain’s perspective, the slave's life represented personal profit. As the text reveals:

“Don’t you see? There went the profit!

Therefore, Spark was thrown overboard due to his destruction of the captain’s profit. Although beatings and hangings of the slaves were allowed, that captain did not want the slaves to be shot. Rather, he wanted to protect his personal profit.

Read the study guide:
The Slave Dancer

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