collage of bones, insects, a volcano, a dinosaur, and a skull

Journey to the Center of the Earth

by Jules Verne

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Chapters 34–39 Summary

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Chapter 34

Several more days of sailing pass without incident. One day, they begin to hear a loud roar that sounds like waves crashing on a reef. Hans climbs the mast but can see nothing. The noise continues to repeat at a distance for some time, and they debate its origins. Finally, Hans sees something from the mast: a great water spout in the distance. Axel wants to avoid it, but the professor sails right toward it. They eventually discover that it is an island with a geyser that sprays water five hundred feet in the air. They stop briefly to examine it before setting on their way again. Axel notes that since Port Grauben, they have covered almost seven hundred miles and are now underneath Britain.

Chapter 35

They sail on, soon noticing that the clouds are getting darker: a storm is approaching. Axel wants to take down the sail, but Hans and Lidenbrock refuse. They are swept into the storm and carried at great speed for three days. Lightning fills the air as the storm persists. On the fourth day, a glowing orb of electricity appears, tearing away the mast and sail and magnetizing all their gear, which slams together. The light ball bursts, covering them in flames.

Axel begins to lose consciousness, seeing his uncle thrown to the floor and Hans covered with fire. He awakens to find that, though the fireball is gone, the storm has not ceased, and the raft is still being carried along. Soon, he can hear the sound of the sea breaking on the rocks.

Chapter 36

The raft crashes onto the rocks, but Hans manages to pull both the professor and Axel from the sea unharmed. When they awake the next morning, the weather has improved, and Lidenbrock is cheerful, believing that they have reached the other side of the sea. Axel asks him how they will get back. The professor explains that if they don’t find another route, they will simply retrace their path. He even asks Hans to repair the raft. The professor and his nephew attempt to determine where they are now. Lidenbrock estimates they are under either Turkey or the Mediterranean Sea. However, when they check their compass, they are shocked to see that what they expected to be north is actually south. Somehow, the storm has driven them back to the shore on which they started.

Chapter 37

The professor is enraged to discover that they have gone backward, landing west of Port Grauben. Lidenbrock is determined to reach his goal and claims, “We shall see who wins: man or Nature!” Axel decides he has had enough and insists that they go back. The professor hears nothing and orders them all back to the raft. As they board the raft, however, Lidenbrock changes his mind and decides that they will leave tomorrow.

Axel and the professor set out to explore. They come to a rift in the ground where layers of earth are exposed and discover a vast array of dinosaur bones. Both men are in awe, as the bones seem endless. Then, with great excitement, Professor Lidenbrock finds a large human skull.

Chapter 38

The two men discover that they have a full skeleton and prop it up to examine it. Axel remarks on what a groundbreaking discovery it is, noting the most recent finds and beliefs in paleontology in Europe. The professor then begins to lecture as if he is speaking to a room full of prestigious colleagues. He continues for some time, demonstrating that their find of an ancient human of giant size...

(This entire section contains 818 words.)

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disproves the current theories of their society. Axel agrees and applauds him. They two continue exploring and discover more bodies. Axel begins to wonder if these people slid down or were born here. He ponders whether they may find some still living.

Chapter 39

Axel and the professor continue exploring until they come to a forest. Lidenbrock leads the way in. Suddenly, they stop, seeing a series of large animals moving beneath the trees in the distance. They believe the animals are mastodons. Then the professor notices a human figure standing nearby. It is a giant, twelve feet tall, who seems to be the shepherd of these animals. They watch him for a moment before fear overcomes them. Axel says that they should run, and for once, the professor does not argue with his fearful nephew. The two escape.

As they make their way back, they are uncertain of how exactly to find Hans and the raft. Axel discovers a knife blade they think they may have dropped. They soon realize, however, that it belonged to the sixteenth-century explorer whose path they are following. The professor believes that the explorer may have left them a sign to mark the way. They look around the cliffs nearby and discover his initials—“A.S.”—carved in a rock, marking the entrance to a dark tunnel.


Chapters 28–33 Summary


Chapters 40–45 Summary