Chapters 28–33 Summary
Last Updated on March 16, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 837
Axel regains consciousness to find his face wet with tears. To his surprise, he is covered in his own blood, having cut himself when he fell. Fearful that he might lose consciousness again, Axel is suddenly aware of the sound of voices. Making his way along and placing his ear on the wall, he soon realizes that it is his uncle and Hans speaking, but they are at some distance. He calls out, and eventually, they hear him. Axel and Lidenbrock began shouting to each other and using their instruments to locate each other. Lidenbrock instructs Axel to make his way downward, as he and Hans are in a larger chamber below. The path becomes very steep, and Axel begins to slide. Unable to stop himself, he soon finds himself falling, only to strike his head on a rock and lose consciousness once again.
Axel awakens to find himself lying on thick “covers”; his uncle is watching him, overjoyed that Axel is alive. Axel soon falls back asleep, and when he awakens the next morning, he sees that they are in a “charming grotto” with a source of unknown light through a slit in the wall and the sound of wind and waves breaking. Lidenbrock is with him and explains that Hans has nursed him back to health with Icelandic ointment. Axel wants to know about the light and the sounds, but his uncle insists that he must eat and rest one more day before he can see what they have found. He only tells Axel that tomorrow they shall sail. When Axel hears this, he cannot wait any longer. His uncle concedes, and Axel rises and dresses to leave the grotto.
Axel cannot believe his eyes. He is standing with his uncle at the edge of a great sea that disappears into the distance. He notices that the light does not come from the sun but appears as a constant glow, filling the space. The space is high enough that he sees clouds winding high above him. He feels as though he is on a different planet. Lidenbrock leads Axel along the shoreline, crossing streams and lagoons, until they meet up with Hans. Axel finds dinosaur bones, and he and Lidenbrock discuss the scientific explanations for the place and the signs of life they find in it. Soon, the trio make their way back to the grotto for the night.
Axel awakens the next day fully recovered. He and Lidenbrock return to the sea and examine the surroundings. Using their instruments, they calculate that they are eighty-seven miles below the earth’s surface and underneath the Scottish Highlands. Lidenbrock informs his nephew of his plan to explore the sea. He reasons that there must be another shore with more exits. Axel asks him how they will cross, as they have no boat. Lidenbrock responds by taking Axel over to see Hans, who is busy building a raft from old wood. Lidenbrock tells Axel that he believes the sea to be eighty to one hundred miles across. Once the raft is finished, they test it, and it floats perfectly.
They awake early the next day. With provisions loaded, they set out on their raft with Hans at the helm. Lidenbrock decides to name their point of departure on the map and calls it Point Grauben, which pleases Axel. Soon, they are out of sight of land. They sail into the night, but it does not get dark. Lidenbrock asks Axel to keep a log of their journey. Hans throws a line into the water and catches a fish; when the professor examines it, he determines that it is an ancient species and has no eyes. Axel slips into a daydream in which he imagines he sees ancient species, and this turns into a hallucination. Hans has to catch him by the arm to keep him from falling overboard. Axel tells Hans and his uncle that he is okay, but he confesses that he still cannot clearly tell the difference between the sea and the sky.
Axel continues reporting the days in his ship’s log. They sail into the next day with no sight of land. The professor is anxious. Axel points out that while Lidenbrock said it was likely eighty miles across the sea, they have already covered more than three times that distance. The professor dismisses him.
They continue sailing for several more days. One evening, Axel falls asleep on his watch, only to be awakened by their boat being raised out of the water and tossed. They look out and see several sea animals of great size coming toward them. Hans soon points out that what they think are many animals are just two great creatures with many parts, and the professor agrees. The animals fight each other for hours. Finally, they disappear, only for one to emerge in front of the raft before falling dead into the water. Axel wonders if the second creature will come back.