"This is a serious thing," said the doctor to me.' The island is still in the grip of that wretched current flowing southward. We will have to look into this tomorrow. If nothing can be done about it, the Indians had better take to canoes and leave the island. The chance of being wrecked will be better than getting frozen to death in the ice-floes of the Antarctick."

This is from a novel "The Voyages Of Doctor Dolittle". I couldn't understand the meaning of this phrase "The chance of being wrecked". What does this phrase mean?

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In this context, "chance" means the possibility of something happening:

  1. a possibility or probability of anything happening (Dictionary.com)

"Wrecked" means to be destroyed, and is often used in a naval context (with the canoes mentioned by the doctor.)

The definition of the verb "wreck":

  1. to cause the wreck of (a vessel); shipwreck. (Dictionary.com)

The phrase "the chance of being wrecked" means something like "the possibility of being destroyed [by that 'wretched current']."

Since the chance of being wrecked is not 100%, the doctor surmises that the risk of leaving in the canoes (the chance of being wrecked) is preferable (better) to freezing to death in the Antarctic.

He would rather take the chance of canoeing away than almost certainly die on the ice-floes.

  • Thank you for your helpful answer. I got it. Now I know this "chance" means risk. – Yuuichi Tam Jun 7 '16 at 19:55
  • Sorry, did I define the wrong word for you? haha – Azor Ahai Jun 7 '16 at 20:08
  • No, I first think chance means favorable opportunity and why being wrecked is favorable opportunity but when chance means risk, I may be able to understand this phrase easier. – Yuuichi Tam Jun 7 '16 at 20:36
  • Well, either way, I'm glad you understand. – Azor Ahai Jun 7 '16 at 20:37

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