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the power of his eloquence

Again, a reader senses how double-edged is the idea of eloquence in this novel. On the one hand, Victor's oratory energizes the crew in positive thinking and rouses them to their tasks. Without this invigoration their situation could degenerate into a laxity of spirit and effort perilous to their well-being. Yet, the emptiness of mere rhetoric is likewise emphasized here, since the courage roused one day gives in to despondency the next. Words relate to reality only tangentially or conditionally, and when the reality remains implacable, Victor's signifying words appear hollow substitutes for its unavoidable presence.