Nailer is the hero of Ship Breaker. Over the course of the novel, he considers how to become successful in the world in which he was raised. He was born into a life of hard labor and poverty, but knows that getting ahead takes more than hard work. Nailer has to be both smart and lucky to stay out of poverty. Unfortunately, Nailer has experienced very little luck so far in life. His mother died of an infection and his father is an abusive drug addict. Nailer’s only good fortune so far has been his small frame, which makes him ideal for scavenging on light crew.
Nailer has been raised in an environment of betrayal. Although the members of his crew mix blood and swear oaths of loyalty to each other, Nailer is betrayed by Sloth. He begins to realize there are things that are more important than survival, and he sacrifices himself to live according to his principles. When Nailer chooses not to kill Lucky Girl, he sacrifices wealth and a life without hard labor. Nailer never betrays his allies and friends, regardless of their background. However, Nailer does have class-based prejudices. He finds it difficult to trust Lucky Girl, a swank, until they are well into their adventure.
To some extent, Nailer’s core personality remains the same throughout the novel. Nailer learns to read and he leaves Bright Sands Beach, but rather than changing over time, his ideals of loyalty and success are tested and refined. Nailer chooses to remain loyal to his father, to his crew, to Lucky Girl, and to Tool. However, by the end of the novel, he has killed twice to protect himself and his friends. The novel closes as Nailer wonders how these actions will affect him. Is he becoming a killer like his father or is he control of his destiny?
Lucky Girl/Miss Nita Patel
Nita is the daughter of one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, and she serves as a social foil for Nailer. Normally, someone like Nita would never meet someone like Nailer, but her father is currently fighting off a coup from one of his associates, Pyce, and she has been forced to flee deep into the ocean on her...
(The entire section is 887 words.)