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Summary - Chapter 1, Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib & Japan Notes | Study English Class 9 - Class 9

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"The author sets out on his third voyage. Is taken by pirates. The malice of a Dutchman. His arrival at an island. He is received into Laputa."

  • After 10 days back home, Gulliver gets a visit from a former captain of his, William Robinson, who offers him a position on Robinson's ship as a surgeon.
  • Gulliver agrees.
  • After a year of travel, the ship heads to Tonquin, part of modern-day Vietnam.
  • The captain has to stay ashore in Tonquin for several months, but he wants to make some profit.
  • The captain buys a small boat and appoints Gulliver the leader of it, with 14 sailors under him, so that they can continue doing business while the captain hangs out on land. ("the captain hangs out on land." To "hang out" somewhere is to spend time there. This idiom originated in the 1950s).
  • This small boat is captured by two ships of Japanese pirates (who were, incidentally, a serious threat to sailors in the seas around China and Southeast Asia, particularly in the seventeenth century.)
  • The Japanese pirates are accompanied by a Dutchman, who tells the English that he wants them to be tied up and thrown into the sea.
  • Gulliver begs him to let them go, but his requests seem only to make the Dutchman angrier – especially Gulliver's references to the Dutchman as a "brother Christian" (3.1.7).
  • (For an explanation of this oddness, check out "Why Swift Seems to Hate the Dutch So Much," under the "Japan" section of "Character Analysis.")
  • The pirate captains finally decide to split Gulliver's crew between their two ships and to set Gulliver adrift in a small canoe with a little bit of food.
  • Gulliver uses his canoe to row to some tiny local islands nearby, but he can't find much food or shelter on any of them.
  • While he's standing on the fifth and last island, Gulliver sees a shadow blot out the sun.
  • He takes out his telescope, looks up, and sees that it is a floating island covered with people. (This is the island of Laputa.)
  • Gulliver manages to signal to these people that he needs help, and they eventually steer overhead and let down a chain for Gulliver to climb up.
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