The novel, Worldshaker, takes place in the year 1995, but the world it takes place in is different. In this world, instead of living on the land together, all of the major European powers created giant ships called juggernauts. Each ship is giant, housing a city's population of people. As in a city, each ship has different classes of people. There are the elite, who live on the Upper Decks, then the merchants, who live in the Lower Decks. The social status lowers with the height on the ship. Even more below the merchant class is the Bottom Decks. The people who live there are the Filthies. They are considered the lowest of the low and are only there to handle the ship's machinery. The people who live on the Upper Decks say, in reference to the Filthies, "We don't think about them" (Harland 12). The only use they feel for the Filthies is to turn them into Menials. The Filthies are somehow changed into worker bees for the Upper Decks people, unable to speak and only able to move with a restricted range of motion. The members of the Upper Decks, feel they are giving the Filthies a better life like this, but the Filthies are against this, not wanting to be turned into useless slaves.
Colbert is a member of a prominent Upper Decks family. He has been given life on a silver platter, protected from the harsher facts of life, and he is next in line to be the captain of the ship. He, like everyone else, does not think of the Filthies. One night, he wakes up to see a Filthy hiding from the ship's guards in his room. Colbert tries to get rid of the Filthy, but she begs for his help, saying she does not want to be changed into a Menial. He says, "You're lucky to have the chance to become a Menial" (Harland 5). The Filthy disagrees, claiming she is better off now than if she were to become a Menial. Col reluctantly agrees, only out of shock.
Later, Colbert finds the Filthy, Riff, is still returning. She is unable to get back Below, which she wants because she wants to get back to her friends there. Riff says she and the others are going to start a rebellion against the people of the Upper Decks. He helps Riff to get back Below. As Col learns more about the other people he considers family and friends and more about the Filthies, he wants to help the Filthy uprising. Colbert then realizes he can do more to help Riff. He sneaks away from a school field trip to send something down to Riff. Except there is a problem. When he goes to deliver it, he is not so sneaky and another boy pushes him down into the Below Decks. Colbert is met by an unfriendly greeting party of angry Filthies. Will he be able to get back home? Will he die?
1. Do you think Colbert, an Upper Decks person, will be able to survive in the much harsher and more demanding world of the Bottom Decks?
2. Do you think it is more important to follow everyone's expectations and follow the crowd or to follow your heart and do what you believe is right?