Summary of the Novel
Ishmael, the narrator of the story, explains that he goes to sea whenever he is depressed. In the port of New Bedford, he stays at the Spouter Inn. He is at first frightened by Queequeg, his tattooed, tomahawk-toting bedmate, who has been out selling shrunken heads. Queequeg soon becomes Ishmael’s bosom friend.
Ishmael attends a service at the Whaleman’s Chapel where Father Mapple gives a sermon about Jonah and the whale. The next day, Queequeg and Ishmael set out for Nantucket where they sign onto a whaler. On the ferry ride to the island, a young man mocks Queequeg. Later, this same young man falls overboard and is saved by Queequeg.
While Queequeg performs his rites of Ramadan in the room at the Try Pots, Ishmael signs onto the whaler Pequod owned by the Quaker captains, Bildad and Peleg. The heathen Queequeg must prove his skill as a harpooner before he is accepted.
As the two friends are about to board the Pequod, they are accosted by the crazed Elijah, who utters vague warnings about Ahab and the voyage. In the mist, they see four or five shadowy figures go aboard. The ship sets sail on Christmas day. The chief mate, Starbuck, chooses Queequeg for his harpooneer; the second mate, Stubb, chooses the Indian, Tashtego; and the third mate, Flask, chooses the African, Daggoo.
Several days after the ship sets sail, Ahab finally appears on deck. His appearance sends shivers through Ishmael. A white scar runs from his hairline, over his face, and down his neck beneath his clothing. He stands upon an artificial leg made of whale bone.
Ahab calls all men on deck. He hammers a gold doubloon to the mast and tells the men that the first to spot Moby Dick, the white whale, will win the coin. Ahab admits that it was Moby Dick that took off his leg.
When the first whale is sighted and the boats are lowered, the sailors are surprised to see Ahab in his own boat with a mysterious crew who had been hidden below deck. The exotic Fedallah is his harpooner. A squall comes up during the chase. Ishmael's boat capsizes and is later nearly rammed by the Pequod.
After rounding the Cape of Good Hope, the ship has its first of many gams, or meetings with other ships. Ahab’s sole purpose in communicating with these ships is to get news of Moby Dick. Several of the ships have lost men to the whale. The Rachel has recently chased Moby Dick and is now searching for a lost boat. The young son of the captain is in that boat, but Ahab refuses to join the search. Starbuck confronts Ahab and tries to convince him to abandon his mission to get his revenge on Moby Dick.
Stubb’s boat is the first to kill a whale. While Stubb eats his whale steak, Fleece, the cook, delivers a sermon to the sharks. During the cleaning of another whale, Tashtego falls into the tun, the forehead of the whale containing the spermaceti. When the head breaks loose from the ship and falls into the water, Tashtego is rescued by Queegueg. Pip, the timid black boy, is temporarily abandoned in the sea during another whale chase which drives him to madness. Queequeg, stricken with fever and believing death is near, has the ship’s carpenter build him a coffin.
Ahab has the blacksmith fashion a special harpoon, tempered in the blood of the heathen harpooners. During a storm, Ahab holds the harpoon above his head and it is struck by lightning. Later, Ahab has a dream, which is interpreted by Fedallah. The Parsee predicts that he will die before Ahab, that only hemp can kill Ahab, and that before he dies, Ahab will see two hearses upon the sea.
At last, Moby Dick is sighted by Ahab. The chase lasts three days. Fedallah dies, lashed by tangled lines to the body of the great beast. Ahab thrusts his harpoon into Moby Dick, but his line runs afoul and catches him around the neck; he is pulled down to the depths. Moby Dick smashes into the bow of the Pequod, and Queequeg’s coffin shoots out of the whirlpool created by the sinking ship. The only survivor, Ishmael, clings to this strange life buoy and is later rescued.
The spirit of adventure and rugged individualism evident in Melville’s work was the spirit of the age in which he lived. The Manifest Destiny doctrine defined the country’s will to grow and spread its democracy throughout the hemisphere. Westward expansion accelerated after the economic depression of 1837, and American pioneers conquered the frontier.
At the same time, New England whaling captains and their crews were conquering the great fishing grounds throughout the world. New Bedford, Massachusetts, the setting of the opening scene in Moby-Dick, had a fleet of over 300 whaling ships. Melville himself sailed from this port on the Acushnet in 1841.
The mid-nineteenth century was not only a period of geographic growth, but also a time of ideological growth. The innate worth of all humanity, an idea developed in Moby-Dick was the concept at the heart of the slavery debate. As new territories were admitted to the union, the question of slavery became a national concern. In the 1850s, the activities of the abolitionists, the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and the Fugitive Slave Law fomented heated debate and controversy.
Ralph Waldo Emerson and transcendentalism dominated the intellectual scene mid-century. In Moby-Dick, the theme of the interconnectedness of all things in the universe reflects transcendental thought. Hawthorne, to whom Moby-Dick was dedicated, Thoreau, Poe, and Walt Whitman dominated the literary scene of that time. These writers, along with Melville, produced a body of work distinctly American.
Ironically, Moby-Dick, one of the greatest works of American literature, was not recognized as such at the time of its publication. Reviews ranged from ardent praise to hostile attack; from “surpasses any of the former productions of this highly successful author” to “trash belonging to the worst of the Bedlam school of literature” (Criticism and Context, 544, 546). One critic commented that the book would be “flung aside” by the common reader (Criticism and Context, 546). His prediction was accurate, for Moby-Dick sold fewer than 3,000 copies (McSweeney, 18). It was not until the late 1930s that Moby-Dick became part of the American literary canon.
List of Characters
Ahab—the monomaniacal, peg-legged captain of the Pequod. Old Thunder is determined to destroy Moby Dick at any cost.
Archy—a sailor aboard the Pequod; he hears noises from afterhold and suspects someone is being kept down there.
Aunt Charity—Captain Bildad’s sister; she is a kind old lady who substituted ginger water for grog aboard the Pequod.
Bildad—a Nantucketer, Quaker, and part owner of the Pequod; he signs on Ishmael and Queequeg.
Bulkington—the helmsman; having just returned from one voyage, he sails again on Pequod and dies at sea.
Bumpkin—young rascal who makes fun of Queequeg on schooner from New Bedford to Nantucket; he is later rescued by Queequeg.
Cabaco—a Pequod sailor who scoffs at Archy’s suspicions that someone is hidden below deck.
Captain Boomer—the good-natured captain of the Samuel Enderby; he lost arm to Moby Dick, and warns Ahab to give up his hunt.
Captain Gardiner—the captain of the Rachel; he is a Nantucketer known to Ahab, and begs Ahab’s help in finding his lost son.
Captain Mayhew—the captain of the Jeroboam of Nantucket; his ship has an epidemic aboard.
Captain of the Albatross—asked if he has seen Moby Dick; his answer is lost when he drops his megaphone into the sea.
Captain of the Bachelor—he invites Ahab to join him and his crew in celebrating their journey home.
Captain of the Delight—he lost five men to Moby Dick and tells Ahab no harpoon can kill the White Whale.
Carpenter—he makes Queequeg’s coffin and then caulks it to make it a life buoy; he makes a new leg for Ahab.
Daggoo—an “imperial, coal-black Negro”; he is a harpooner for Flask.
Derrick De Deer—captain of the Jungfrau whose ship is out of oil; he loses a contest with the Pequod to catch a whale.
Dr. Bunger—gives Ahab details of Captain Boomer’s wound.
Dons Pedro and Sebastian—Spanish friends of Ishmael to whom he told the story of the Town-Ho.
Dough-Boy—Pequod’s steward; he is nervous, “bread-faced.”
Elijah—a ragged “prophet” who stops Ishmael and Queequeg; he dismays Ishmael with his vague warnings about Ahab.
Father Mapple—a former harpooner who is the minister of the Whaleman’s Chapel in New Bedford; he gives a sermon about Jonah.
Fedallah—the Parsee, a mysterious harpooner for Ahab’s boat; he interprets Ahab’s dream and dies lashed to Moby Dick.
Flask—the third mate; called King-Post for his stout figure and stalwartness, he has little fear of or respect for whales.
Fleece—an old, arch-backed Negro cook; he cooks Stubb’s whale steak and delivers a sermon to the sharks.
Gabriel—the crazed “prophet” of the Jeroboam; he calls Moby Dick a Shaker god and warns against attacking him.
Guernsey-man—chief mate of the Rose-Bud; with Stubb’s help he gets his captain to cut rotting whale carcasses free.
Hosea and Mrs. Hussey—owners of the Try Pots Inn of Nantucket where Ishmael and Queequeg stay and eat chowder.
Ishmael—narrator of the story; he survives by clinging to Queequeg’s floating coffin.
Macey—the former chief mate of the Jeroboam who was killed by Moby Dick; the Pequod tries to deliver a letter to him.
Manxman—an old Pequod sailor from the Isle of Man; he warns Ahab that the line holding the log will not hold.
Moby Dick—a sperm whale, “white-headed with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw”; god, devil, or dumb brute; he destroys Ahab.
Peleg—a Nantucketer, Quaker, and part owner of the Pequod; he is impressed by Queequeg’s skill as a harpooner.
Perth—a “begrimed, blistered old blacksmith”; he forges Ahab’s harpoon which is tempered in blood.
Peter Coffin—landlord of the Spouter Inn in New Bedford; he gives Ishmael a bed to share with Queequeg.
Pip—a little black “ship-keeper” who goes mad after being left in the water; Ahab becomes attached to him.
Queequeg—a harpooner who is a devoted friend of Ishmael. He is a tattooed savage of noble birth; saves Tashtego.
Radney—the former mate of the Town-Ho; he is an enemy of Steelkilt, and is devoured by Moby Dick.
Starbuck—the chief mate of the Pequod; he opposes Ahab and tries to convince him to give up his quest.
Steelkilt—a mutineer on the Town-Ho; he is about to murder Radney when Moby Dick interrupts the plan.
Stubb—Pequod’s “good humored” second mate.; he kills the first whale and leaves Pip in the water expecting him to be picked up.
Tashtego—an American Indian, harpooner for Stubb; he falls into the tun of a whale but is saved.
Yojo—Queequeg’s “black little god” to whom he prays and from whom he obtains guidance.
Master List of Ships
The Albatross—her captain drops his megaphone; so the Pequod is unable to communicate with her.
The Bachelor—a homeward bound ship celebrating a very profitable voyage.
The Delight—a whaler that lost five men to Moby Dick; she is in the process of burying one at sea when the Pequod approaches.
The Jeroboam—a whaler that has an epidemic on board; the crazed Gabriel is one of her crew.
The Jungfrau—called Virgin in German, her captain asked the Pequod for oil; she competed with the Pequod for a whale and lost.
The Rachel—a Nantucket whaler whose captain was searching for his son lost in a chase for Moby Dick; she picks up Ishmael after the Pequod sinks.
The Rose-Bud—an odoriferous ship with two rotting whales lashed along her side, tricked by Stubb.
The Samuel Enderby—an English ship whose captain had lost an arm to Moby Dick.
The Town-Ho—manned by Polynesians; the first mate, Radney, is killed by Moby Dick; the ship is deserted by Steelkilt and the crew.
Estimated Reading Time
Reading time will improve as the reader becomes accustomed to Melville’s style. In an hour’s sitting, 30 to 35 pages could be covered. The book could be completed in 20 to 25 hours.
Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Ishmael is a schoolmaster who often feels that he must leave his quiet existence and go to sea. Much of his life has been spent as a sailor, and his voyages are a means of ridding himself of the restlessness that frequently seizes him. One day, he decides that he will sign on a whaling ship, and packing his carpetbag, he leaves Manhattan and sets out, bound for Cape Horn and the Pacific.
On his arrival in New Bedford, Ishmael goes to the Spouter Inn near the waterfront to spend the night. There he finds he can have a bed only if he consents to share it with a harpooner. His strange bedfellow frightens him when he enters the room, for Ishmael is certain that he is a savage cannibal. After a few moments, however, it becomes evident that the native, whose name is Queequeg, is a friendly person, for he presents Ishmael with an embalmed head and offers to share his fortune of thirty dollars. The two men quickly become friends and decide to sign on the same ship.
Eventually they sign on the Pequod, a whaler out of Nantucket, Ishmael as a seaman, Queequeg as a harpooner. Although several people seem dubious about the success of a voyage on a vessel such as the Pequod, which is reported to be under a strange man, Captain Ahab, neither Ishmael nor Queequeg has any intention of giving up their plans. They are, however, curious to see Captain Ahab.
For several days after the vessel has sailed, there is no sign of the...
(The entire section is 1748 words.)
Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Moby Dick: Or, The Whale is Melville’s masterpiece, the book in which he most thoroughly used his experiences in the South Seas to examine the human condition and the metaphysical questions that were at the center of the author’s troubled worldview. From the novel’s famous opening line, “Call me Ishmael,” the reader is addressed directly by the book’s youthful but embittered narrator. Unlike many of Melville’s youthful narrators, Ishmael is not presented as a young innocent, although he does face an initiation into the ways of the world. Instead, he is depicted as a young man with a past, who takes to the sea to avoid taking some more drastic action in response to the difficulties he has faced.
Ishmael comes to New Bedford, Massachusetts, to sign on to a whaling ship, but before sailing he is confronted with comic and foreboding events that suggest the broad range of the novel. First, Ishmael shares a bed with a tattooed South Seas islander named Queequeg. Despite his initial comic horror, Ishmael demonstrates his open-mindedness by overcoming his fears and becoming friends with the cannibal.
Ishmael also attends the famous whaleman’s chapel, where he hears Father Mapple deliver a sermon based on the story of Jonah and the whale, a sermon that emphasizes the dangers of human pride. After selecting the Pequod, a ship named after an Indian tribe that was massacred by the Puritans, the narrator and his new pagan...
(The entire section is 841 words.)
Call Me Ishmael
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale chronicles the strange journey of an ordinary seaman named Ishmael who signs on for a whaling voyage in 1840s Massachusetts. A thoughtful but gloomy young man, Ishmael begins his odyssey in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a prosperous whaling town and crossing point to the island of Nantucket. Arriving on a dark Saturday night in December, he finds cheap lodging in a waterfront dive called The Spouter Inn. There he is forced to share a bed with a South Sea islander and “cannibal” named Queequeg, a fierce-looking harpooner covered with tattoos and carrying a tomahawk and a shrunken head. After some initial uncertainty, the two become close friends and decide to seek a berth together on a whaling ship. Before leaving for Nantucket, however, Ishmael decides to visit the local whaleman’s chapel, where he sees memorial plaques to lost sailors and hears a disturbing sermon about the prophet Jonah and the terrors of the whale.
On Nantucket, the two sailors set out to find the best ship for their voyage. After consulting Queequeg’s “black little god,” a tiny totem named Yojo, they settle on the Pequod, a whaling vessel run by the notorious Captain Ahab. They sign the ship’s papers, but on their way back to the inn to get their belongings, they meet Elijah, a shabbily dressed old man who haunts the docks. Elijah hints at the dangers to come and warns the two not to get...
(The entire section is 1237 words.)
Summary and Analysis
Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis
Ishmael: the narrator of the story; a seaman
Ishmael explains he has chosen to go to sea to cure his depression as an alternative to suicide. There is “magic” in bodies of water, he says. “Crowds of water-gazers” flock to the wharfs of Manhattan, a temporary escape from the occupations in which they are “pent up.” Wanderers in the woods find their way to lakes.
Ishmael never goes to sea as a passenger; he doesn’t have the money to pay. He never goes as an officer; he has all he can do to take care of himself. He never goes as a cook. Rather, he goes to sea as a “simple sailor” to get paid, to get exercise, and to breathe the pure air. He overcomes the indignity of being ordered around since he believes that everyone else is a slave in one way or another.
Although he may delude himself into believing his choice is his own, it is fate that sends Ishmael on a whaling voyage. His chief motives are the mystery of the whale itself and the marvels of the seas he will sail.
Discussion and Analysis
“Call me Ishmael” is undoubtedly one of the most famous opening lines in all of literature. The name is an allusion to the biblical character who was cast out of Abraham’s household, set adrift as it were. The title of the chapter, “Loomings,” meaning an ominous event about to occur, establishes a sense of...
(The entire section is 400 words.)
Chapters 2-4 Summary and Analysis
Peter Coffin: the owner of the Spouter Inn
Bulkington: a whaler in the Spouter Inn just returned from a
Queequeg: a pagan harpooner with whom Ishmael must share a bed
Ishmael stays over in New Bedford, waiting for a packet to take him to Nantucket. He searches the cold, dark streets for a place to stay. After accidentally going into a “Negro church,” he comes upon a sign, “The Spouter Inn:—Peter Coffin.”
The entryway of the inn reminds Ishmael of a “condemned old craft.” Dominating the scene is a large, enigmatic oil painting, which Ishmael interprets as a “half-foundered” ship in a hurricane with a whale leaping up as if to impale himself on the masts. Peter Coffin tells Ishmael that he must share a bed with a harpooner. Ishmael observes the activities of the inn, taking special interest in a tall, silent man named Bulkington. He will soon be Ishmael’s shipmate in spite of the fact that he has just returned from a voyage.
Ishmael grows fearful of sharing a bed with a stranger and tries unsuccessfully to sleep on a bench. He opts for the bed even after Peter Coffin tells him that this harpooner is off peddling a shrunken head. Ishmael is in bed when the dark stranger enters. His head is bald except for a small scalp-knot, and he is tattooed all over. He removes an ebony idol from his bag, performs a sort of...
(The entire section is 591 words.)
Chapters 5-9 Summary and Analysis
Father Mapple: pastor of the seamen’s chapel
Ishmael greets his landlord and bears no hard feelings for the joke Peter Coffin played in the matter of his bedfellow. All the boarders, mostly whalemen, gather at the table for breakfast. Although they are all adventurers, paradoxically, they are timid in the social setting. Queequeg sits at the head of the table, using his harpoon to “grapple” the steak.
After breakfast, Ishmael ventures into the streets of New Bedford where he sees all manner of people including “cannibals chatting at street corners” and hayseeds from Vermont “athirst for the glory” of whaling. Nonetheless, New Bedford is “the dearest place to live” with its lovely parks, gardens, and patrician houses all gotten from the bounty of the sea.
He stops into the Whaleman’s Chapel. The walls are lined with marble tablets put up in memory of those who have lost their lives to whaling. Queequeg is there. Father Mapple mounts the pulpit by way of a ship’s ladder which he draws up after him. The pulpit itself is a ship’s prow.
The sermon is based on the story of Jonah, who had been commanded by God to go to a foreign land to preach. He disobeyed God and was punished by being swallowed by a whale. He repented and was saved.
Discussion and Analysis
Ishmael bears no grudge against Peter Coffin...
(The entire section is 555 words.)
Chapters 10-15 Summary and Analysis
Bumpkin: mocks Queequeg on packet to Nantucket
Mr. and Mrs. Hosea Hussey: owners of the Try Pots Inn
Ishmael returns to the Spouter Inn, where he finds Queequeg turning through the pages of a book. They share a smoke from the tomahawk pipe, and Queequeg declares Ishmael a bosom friend for whom he would die. Ishmael joins Queequeg in his rites of praising the ebony idol.
Queequeg tells Ishmael of his past. The son of a high chief from Kokovoko, Queequeg was determined to learn more about Christians and to bring his knowledge back to his people to make them happier. After being picked up by a ship, he discovered that Christians have little to offer his people.
The two friends use a wheelbarrow to bring their belongings aboard The Moss, the Nantucket packet. A “bumpkin” makes fun of Queequeg, who deftly tosses him into the air. While the captain berates Queequeg, the boom flies loose and knocks the bumpkin overboard. Queequeg dives in and saves him. Arriving at the Try Pots Inn, the two sailors are served clam and fish chowders by Mrs. Hussey.
Discussion and Analysis
Ishmael’s first major step in both his literal and symbolic journey begins with his acceptance of Queequeg as his bosom friend. “You cannot hide the soul,” he says as he penetrates Queequeg’s outlandish exterior to recognize the noble...
(The entire section is 557 words.)
Chapters 16-18 Summary and Analysis
Yojo: Queequeg’s little god, the black idol
Captains Peleg and Bildad: Quaker Nantucketers, owners of the Pequod
Captain Ahab: captain of the Pequod
The Pequod: ship onto which Ishmael signs
Queequeg believes that Yojo has told him to have Ishmael pick out a whaling ship. While Queequeg begins his day of fasting, Ishmael chooses the Pequod. He signs on with the owners, Bildad and Peleg, who after some bickering, give Ishmael the 300th lay, his share of the profit from the whaling voyage.
When Ishmael asks to see his captain, Peleg tells him Ahab is at home, neither sick nor well. Ishmael learns that Ahab lost his leg to a whale and that he has a wife and child. Peleg alludes to a typhoon during which he and Ahab saved the Pequod and her men.
When Ishmael returns to his room, he finds it locked. Concerned for Queequeg, he breaks down the door to find his friend squatting silently in the middle of the room, Yojo on his head. At sunup, Queequeg’s ritual ends.
Bildad and Peleg are reluctant to sign a heathen onto the Pequod. Queequeg proves his skill as a harpooner by hitting a small spot of tar on the water. Peleg signs him on under the name of Quohog, beneath which Queequeg makes his mark, the symbol tattooed on his arm.
(The entire section is 559 words.)
Chapters 19-25 Summary and Analysis
Elijah: a strange, ragged old man; a prophet of doom
Aunt Charity: Bildad’s sister
As Queequeg and Ishmael approach the Pequod, which is being made ready for its long voyage, they are accosted by Elijah, who makes many vague and unsettling innuendos about the ship and its captain, whom he calls Old Thunder.
The morning the ship is to set sail, Ishmael sees some “shadows,” which he takes to be men, boarding the boat. Elijah approaches him once again and tells him to see if he can find those sailors when he goes aboard. Although Ahab had come on the ship the night before sailing, he has remained in his cabin.
The ship sets sail on Christmas morning, piloted out of port by Bildad and Peleg. When it is time for them to leave the ship, they are reluctant to go. That night, Ishmael is surprised to see Bulkington at the helm.
Ishmael defends whaling as a noble occupation. Whalers are no more butchers than are soldiers who earn praise for their slaughtering. Whale oil lights the lamps of the world and is used to anoint the heads of kings and queens at their coronations. For Ishmael, whaling was his Harvard and Yale.
Discussion and Analysis
In the Bible, the first book of Kings, the prophet Elijah is an enemy of the wicked King Ahab. The Elijah who stops Ishmael is also a prophet. He suggests that...
(The entire section is 425 words.)
Chapters 26-31 Summary and Analysis
Starbuck: chief mate
Stubb: second mate
Flask: third mate, called King-Post
Tashtego: Stubb’s Indian harpooner
Daggoo: Flask’s African harpooner
The first two chapters of this section, both entitled “Knights and Squires,” describe the officers of the Pequod. “Three better, more likely sea-officers and men, each in his own different way, could not readily be found, and they were every one of them Americans.”
Starbuck, a Quaker, is a lean, “steadfast man.” He had lost both a father and a brother to whaling and has a family at home. Consequently, he is a cautious whaleman who “will have no man in (his) boat who is not afraid of a whale.”
“Happy-go-lucky” Stubb, on the other hand, is “easy and careless” about whaling. His pipe is a permanent feature of his face. It is Stubb who confronts Ahab about his pacing the deck, keeping the crew awake at night with the thumping of his ivory leg. Ahab gets angry and calls him a dog. Stubb at first takes offense, but later, after a dream about Ahab kicking him, decides that an insult from a man like Ahab is, in fact, an honor.
Flask, the third mate, is a “stout, ruddy” fellow called King-Post. Bent on destroying whales, he is fearless as he feels that he has been personally affronted by the creatures.
Ahab at last...
(The entire section is 520 words.)
Chapters 32-35 Summary and Analysis
Dough-Boy: the cabin steward
Ishmael believes that to understand the references to whales that will follow in his narrative, it is first necessary to have some knowledge of the general classifications of whales. He defines the whale as “a spouting fish with a horizontal tail.” He then classifies whales according to size into three “books,” each with its “chapters.” The first book is made of the largest whales, such as the sperm and right whales. The second consists of middle-sized whales, such as the narwhale and killer whale. The last contains porpoises.
Ishmael then explains the hierarchy of the whale ship. The chief harpooner is known as the specksynder. Because ultimately the success of a voyage depends on the harpooners, they are given quarters aft with the captain and mates. General seamen live forward of the mast.
The mates take their meals with the captain in his cabin. With Ahab, this is a silent, solemn affair. After they have left, the harpooners have their dinners. They are so boisterous and lively that they frighten the steward.
Of all the ship’s duties, standing the masthead can be most pleasant. On balmy days, Ishmael, standing watch high up on the mast, performs his duty poorly, for he gets lost in the reverie of his thoughts. Unfortunately, whalers that fish in the South Seas are not equipped with crow’s nests, and on...
(The entire section is 478 words.)
Chapters 36-40 Summary and Analysis
Pip: the cabin boy
Ahab summons all hands to the quarter-deck. He hammers a gold coin to the mast and promises it to the first man who sees the white whale “with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw.” Ahab admits that it is Moby Dick, the whale that “dismasted” him. He also admits that killing Moby Dick is the purpose of the voyage. He rallies all the men behind him; only Starbuck dissents.
Ahab gathers the crew around him, his hand upon the crossed lances of his mates. They all drink from a pewter goblet. The harpooners drink from the detached iron spears of their harpoons.
Ahab, alone in his cabin, cannot enjoy the beauty of the sunset. He is “damned in the midst of paradise.” He defies the gods that have “knocked (him) down.” Starbuck thinks about the power Ahab has over him. He is tied to him and, though rebelling, must obey. Stubb tells himself that all is predestined and the only thing to do is laugh about it.
The sailors drink, dance, sing, and fight until a squall comes up and they must reef the masts. Pip, the frightened cabin boy, prays to the “big white God” to have mercy on a little black boy.
Discussion and Analysis
Stubb, observing Ahab, tells Flask, “the chick that’s in him pecks the shell. `Twill soon be out.” That “chick” is Ahab’s monomaniacal desire for revenge on Moby...
(The entire section is 430 words.)
Chapters 41-42 Summary and Analysis
As encounters with Moby Dick become more frequent among whalers, rumors about him grow more fantastic. Some say he is ubiquitous, that he could be in two places at once. Others say that he is immortal. Many ascribe to the creature a kind of malignant intelligence.
Ishmael learns more about Ahab’s encounter with Moby Dick. His three boats stove in and his crew swirling in the eddies, Ahab futilely plunged a six-inch blade into the whales’s flank. It was then that Moby Dick took his leg in his great, crooked jaw.
Ahab’s madness came upon him during the homeward voyage. For months, he lay in his hammock, “his torn body and gashed soul bled into one another” and so made him mad. Later he was able to hide this madness. The Nantucketers believed that his going back out to sea was the best thing for him.
Ishmael speculates on Ahab's and his own feelings for Moby Dick. Ahab “piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down.” For Ahab, Moby Dick embodies the very essence of evil. Ishmael’s feelings for the whale have more to do with its color. Although whiteness may signify beauty and innocence, it is also the color of the horse upon which Death rides and the color of a corpse’s skin. More frightening to Ishmael is that whiteness is an absence. It is blankness.
Discussion and Analysis
(The entire section is 486 words.)
Chapters 43-47 Summary and Analysis
Archy and Cabaco: sailors aboard the Pequod
Archy hears coughs from under the hatches where no one should be. Cabaco tells him it must be something he ate. Every night in his cabin, Ahab studies nautical charts trying to map out the most likely path to bring him to Moby Dick. For several years the whale has been sighted at the time and place known as Season-on-the-Line. The Season will not occur for another year, but in the meantime, Ahab plots the migratory patterns of sperm whales.
Ishmael offers proof for all he has said about whales. Whales do have recognizable traits and are given names such as Rinaldo Rinaldini, Timor Tom, Don Miguel, and others. Sperm whales have destroyed entire ships such as the Essex out of Nantucket.
By using the Pequod for his own purposes, Ahab has left himself open to the charge of usurpation. The crew would be legally justified in a mutiny. He must hunt for other whales in order to appease the crew, particularly Starbuck.
As Queequeg and Ishmael are working together weaving a mat, Tashtego cries out, “There she blows!” The men, lowering their boats, see “five dusky phantoms” preparing to join Ahab in the hunt.
Discussion and Analysis
Archy’s suspicions are proven sound when the five phantoms are seen with Ahab. These are the shadows Ishmael...
(The entire section is 385 words.)
Chapters 48-51 Summary and Analysis
Fedallah: Ahab’s mysterious harpooner
Ahab’s boat is lowered by Fedallah and his crew. Fedallah is tall and dark and has one tooth protruding from his lips. His braided white hair is wrapped around his head like a turban. Ahab takes his place at the helm of his whale boat. All the other boats are lowered as well.
Just as Queequeg throws his harpoon at a whale, the boat is swamped. Ishmael, Starbuck, and the others are thrown from the boat, but manage to pull themselves back in. They are separated from the others and lost all night in the storm and fog. At dawn, the Pequod finds them. After this incident, Ishmael makes out a will.
Fedallah spots a silvery spout. The Pequod is never able to catch up with it although it appears every night at midnight. As the ship nears the Cape of Good Hope, the weather becomes cold; the ocean, treacherous.
Discussion and Analysis
Fedallah is associated with evil. When Ahab questions him, Fedallah “hisses” a reply. He is dark and dressed in “funereal” black. Ishmael imagines him the offspring of the devil who “consorted with the daughters of men.” Fedallah’s crew are yellow-complexioned Manillans, believed to be agents of the devil by some sailors.
Fedallah and his crew are described as “dusky phantoms fresh formed out of air.” On a symbolic level,...
(The entire section is 367 words.)
Chapters 52-54 Summary and Analysis
Radney: mate on the Town-Ho
Steelkilt: sailor on the Town-Ho
Dons Pedro and Sebastian: young men to whom Ishmael told the Town-Ho’s story
The Albatross: ship with which the Pequod has an unsuccessful gam
The Town-Ho: ship manned by Polynesians
Southwest of the Cape of Good Hope, the Pequod meets the Albatross, a ship heading home after a four-year voyage. Ahab hails the ship asking if they have seen the White Whale. As the other captain is about to reply, he drops the horn through which he was about to speak into the water. His reply is lost in the wind.
This meeting, peculiar to whaleships, is known as a gam. Frequently, the boats’ crews exchange visits, mail, papers, and whaling news.
The Pequod then has a short gam with the Town-Ho from which much is learned about the White Whale. Ishmael hears a secret part of the story, from Tashtego.
Two years earlier, the Town-Ho was sailing the Pacific when the ship sprang a leak. Among the sailors laboring at the pumps was a “tall, noble animal” named Steelkilt. Just as Steelkilt sat down to rest, the ugly first mate, Radney, ordered him to shovel up some pig droppings from the deck. Steelkilt refused. Radney came at Steelkilt with a hammer, and Steelkilt...
(The entire section is 534 words.)
Chapters 55-60 Summary and Analysis
Few pictures of whales are accurate because the true majesty of the whale can be seen only in unfathomable waters. However, there are many pictures of whales. A crippled beggar in London holds a painted board depicting the scene in which he lost his leg. Sailors carve and etch whale bone and whale teeth, a craft called scrimshanding or scrimshaw. With imagination, whales can be seen in the stars and in undulating mountain ridges.
The Pequod cruises through a meadow of brit, the yellow substance eaten by right whales. Daggoo raises the cry for the White Whale, but what he has sighted is really a huge, white squid. Starbuck considers it a bad omen.
Typically, the whaling line, the line attached to the harpoon, is run through a series of complicated turns from bow to stern, enclosing the six-man crew in its coils.
Discussion and Analysis
In this section, the reportorial style of the material devoted to the pictures of whales contrasts with the more poetic style of descriptive passages such as this:
“But one transparent blue morning, … when the long burnished sun-glade on the waters seemed a golden finger laid across them …, when the slippered waves whispered together …; in this profound hush … a strange spectre was seen.”
The “spectre” is the squid. The diction used to describe its appearance creates...
(The entire section is 398 words.)
Chapters 61-66 Summary and Analysis
Fleece: a 90-year-old, black cook
Drowsing during his watch at the foremast-head, Ishmael, spots a gigantic sperm whale lolling in the tranquil waters of the Indian Ocean. The boats are lowered; Tashtego harpoons the whale; and Stubb kills it with his lance.
“It is the harpooneer that makes the voyage.” He must cast his harpoon 20 or 30 feet after rowing with all his strength and shouting loudly at the same time. Two harpoons are set in the crotch, but the second is usually thrown overboard where it dangles dangerously from the main harpoon line.
The whale is secured next to the Pequod. Stubb tries to enjoy his whale steak dinner, but is disturbed by the noise of the sharks. He tells Fleece to speak to the sharks and quiet them. Futilely, Fleece delivers a sermon and benediction.
During the night, Queequeg and another seaman try to protect the whale carcass by killing sharks with their sharp whaling-spades.
Discussion and Analysis
A drowsy, tranquil scene opens chapter LXI. Ishmael, on masthead watch, idly sways in the “enchanted air.” In his dreamy mood, his soul goes out of his body. He and the other two masthead watches “lifelessly swung from the spars.” The imagery creates a sleepy, sultry atmosphere, but, at the same time, suggests the crucifixion scene.
The atmosphere and imagery...
(The entire section is 427 words.)
Chapters 67-71 Summary and Analysis
Captain Mayhew: captain of the Jeroboam
Gabriel: crazed prophet and crewman on the Jeroboam
Macey: Jeroboam’s chief mate killed by Moby Dick
The Jeroboam: ship plagued by an epidemic
On Sunday, a pulley system is rigged to the mast and a hook is attached to a huge strip of blubber. The strip of blubber is peeled from the whale like a peel from an orange. Starbuck and Stubb stand on staging just above the whale and simultaneously cut a scarf line with their sharp shovels. The whale spins like a log in the water as the spiraled blubber, called the blanket, is hoisted up.
The headless carcass of the whale is set adrift. The head has been hoisted about halfway out of the water against the side of the ship. Ahab speaks to the head telling it to reveal all the secrets it knows.
The Jeroboam approaches, but because of an epidemic on his ship, Captain Mayhew speaks to Ahab from his whaleboat. One of his oarsmen is the crazed Gabriel, who tells Ahab to “beware of the blasphemer’s end.” As Gabriel had predicted, the chief mate of the Jeroboam was killed by Moby Dick, whom Gabriel believes to be his Shaker god. Ironically, the Pequod is carrying a letter for the deceased Macey. When Ahab tries to hand it over, Gabriel grabs it, pierces it with a knife, and throws...
(The entire section is 435 words.)
Chapters 72-78 Summary and Analysis
During the process of stripping the blubber from the whale, Queequeg must mount the carcass to secure the hook. For safety, he is attached to a monkey rope, a line which runs up the side of the ship and is attached to Ishmael.
Ahab orders the killing of a right whale because Fedallah has told him that a boat with a sperm whale head on one side and a right whale head on the other cannot sink.
Stubb and Flask kill a right whale. While they are towing it back to the boat, they discuss Fedallah. Stubb believes him to be the devil and suggests that Ahab has made a pact with him.
Ishmael contrasts the two whale heads now hoisted on either side of the ship. The sperm whale’s head is symmetrical, but the right whale’s is “inelegant.” Ishmael sees the mouth as “really beautiful and chaste-looking.”
Within the sperm whale’s head is a well of precious spermaceti. Tashtego mounts the main yardarm to lower a bucket into the tun and begin the process of bailing out its 500 gallons of spermaceti. When Tashtego slips and falls into the head, the whole thing falls from the side of the ship. Queequeg jumps into the water, swims to the sinking head, cuts a hole in it, reaches in, and pulls out Tashtego.
Discussion and Analysis
The theme of the unity of man is symbolized by the line that connects Queequeg and Ishmael. Furthermore, the line symbolizes the...
(The entire section is 416 words.)
Chapters 79-81 Summary and Analysis
Derrick De Deer: captain of the Jungfrau
Jungfrau (Virgin): German ship empty of whale oil
Ishmael describes the physiognomy of the whale. The sperm whale has no nose, which gives the creature an added grandeur. Its brow gives it a “high and mighty God-like dignity.” The sperm whale is a fit object for pagan worship.
The brain is encased in a skull, which when scaled down, is not unlike man’s. The whale’s hump rises over one of its largest vertebrae. This hump indicates the “indomitableness” of the sperm whale.
The next whale hunt, involving both the Jungfrau and the Pequod, illustrates such indomitableness. The Jungfrau has no oil, and Captain Derrick De Deer approaches the Pequod with the idea of getting some lamp oil from her. However, just as his boat comes near, a pod of whales is spotted.
One blind, crippled old bull struggles along at the rear of the pod. Derrick’s four boats and the Pequod’s three compete to capture this large whale. Queequeg, Tashtego, and Daggoo harpoon the whale first. The whale is killed and secured to the Pequod, but the whale begins to sink, pulling the Pequod over sideways. Queequeg manages to cut through the fluke chains, and the whale sinks.
Derrick and his men chase after a finback,...
(The entire section is 442 words.)
Chapters 82-86 Summary and Analysis
Ishmael names “demi-gods, heroes, and prophets” who have been whalers: among them, Perseus, St. George, Hercules, Vishnu, and Jonah.
Not long after the Jungfrau episode, whales are spotted. The chase requires the use of the pitchpole, a 10- to 12-foot lance much lighter than a harpoon. The pitchpole can be thrown some distance to pierce the whale and then pulled back by a line and thrown again and again. Tashtego plants his iron in a whale, but the whale continues its fleet flight. The pitchpole is used to slow it down, and then it is caught.
Ishmael continues his speculations about the whale’s physiology. He tells us he is writing this particular passage on December 16, 1851. The topic is the whale’s spout through which it breathes. When the whale surfaces, he “breathes,” filling vessels on either side of his spine and along his ribs with oxygenated blood. He draws upon this supply when he swims underwater. Although there is no definite answer to the question of whether the spout is vapor or vapor mixed with water, Ishmael maintains it is a kind of mist. Whalemen believe the jet to be poisonous, harmful to the skin, and blinding.
The sperm whale’s tail is 20 feet across and its upper surface is at least 50 square feet. Although the tail is incredibly powerful, it is nonetheless very graceful. The whale uses it for progression, hitting, sweeping, lobtailing, and peaking....
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Chapters 87-92 Summary and Analysis
Guernseyman: first mate of the Rose-Bud
Rose-Bud: French ship with two rotting whales secured to her
Near the straits of Sunda, the Pequod is chased by Malaysian pirates whom the Pequod is able to outrun. The ship then encounters a huge herd of whales. Mid-chase, the whales become “gallied,” disoriented and swimming about in all directions. Queequeg harpoons a whale that escapes after towing the boat into a calm spot occupied by cows and their calves. The oarsmen pet them. Beneath the surface, cows nurse their young.
The whalers use a “drugg” to injure the gallied whales and slow them down so they can be captured later. A drugged whale, flailing about, invades the calm area and soon the whale boat is pressed on all sides by the whales. In the melee, Queequeg loses his hat. Only one drugged whale is captured.
Enormous herds of whales such as these are sometimes encountered, but schools of whales, consisting of 25 to 50 whales are more frequently seen. These schools usually consist of all males or all females. A female school is accompanied by a schoolmaster, a full-grown male.
In the previous hunt, waif poles were used to mark ownership of whales which had been “drugged.” By law, such whales would be considered Fast-Fish. A Fast-Fish is any fish secured to a ship or secured to any implement of...
(The entire section is 614 words.)
Chapters 93-99 Summary and Analysis
Pip replaces an injured man in Stubb’s boat. Pip is jarred from the boat and caught in the harpoon line. Tashtego grudgingly cuts the line to save Pip and loses the whale in doing so. On another hunt, Pip is once again thrown into the sea, but this time Stubb leaves him. Pip is later picked up by the Pequod, but his experience has left him mad.
Ishmael explains more steps in the processing of the whale. As the sperm cools in the tubs, it hardens. The sailors dip in their hands and squeeze the lumps back to liquid. Also, the whale’s phallus is skinned, the skin is dried, arm holes are cut in it, and the mincer slips it on before cutting up pieces of blubber for the melting pots.
The blubber is melted down over a kiln in two try-pots. The sailors often help themselves to the cooled oil to keep their lamps burning even as they sleep. The cooled oil is put in casks and stored below.
Pacing the deck, Ahab, stops to study the doubloon he nailed to the mast. In its symbols, he sees himself. Starbuck interprets it as a symbol of God. Stubb, Flask, the Manxman, Queequeg, Fedallah, and Pip also study and interpret the meaning of the doubloon.
Discussion and Analysis
“The Castaway” and “The Squeeze of the Hand” are dualistic chapters. In the first, the tender-hearted, jovial Pip, left adrift in the “heartless immensity” of the sea, experiences total...
(The entire section is 523 words.)
Chapters 100-105 Summary and Analysis
Captain Boomer: one-armed captain of the Samuel Enderby
Dr. Bunger: ship’s doctor aboard the Samuel Enderby
Samuel Enderby: hospitable English ship
The Pequod has a gam with the Samuel Enderby. The blubber-hook is lowered for Ahab to be hoisted aboard the English ship. Captain Boomer lost his arm to Moby Dick. His boat was smashed and his arm pierced by a loose harpoon. Later, his arm had to be amputated. His carpenter made him a whale-bone arm.
Captain Boomer tells Ahab he has seen the White Whale, but advises him to let well enough alone. Ahab becomes so agitated that Dr. Bunger approaches him to help, but Ahab pushes him against the bulwarks and hurriedly leaves.
The Samuel Enderby was named after the man who brought the first whaler into the South Pacific. Ishmael had the opportunity to board the English ship many years after the Pequod’s voyage. He remarks about her wonderful hospitality.
Ishmael has become somewhat knowledgeable about whale skeletons by dissecting a cub sperm whale and by inspecting the skeleton of a stranded whale on a Pacific island that he was visiting. The skeleton had been turned into a shrine. By Ishmael’s calculations, the skeleton of a large sperm whale is between 85 and 90 feet long.
Fossil whales show that over the...
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Chapters 106-109 Summary and Analysis
Ahab had left the Samuel Enderby in such haste that he did damage to his ivory leg. Prior to the Pequod’s voyage, he had had another mishap involving his leg. Ahab had been found unconscious, lying face down, the leg nearly piercing his groin. The wound had not totally healed when the Pequod sailed, which explains why Ahab kept to his cabin at the beginning of the voyage. Because Ahab is now wary of any weakness in his leg, the ship’s carpenter fashions him another.
A leak is suspected in the oil barrels. Starbuck enters Ahab’s cabin to ask permission to “up Burtons”;—that is, to take the barrels out of the hold and find the leak. Ahab forbids it, for this requires the ship to heave to for a week or more, something Ahab is loathe to do. The two men argue and Ahab points a loaded musket at Starbuck. Starbuck does not flinch and says, “Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man.” Later, after some thought, Ahab reverses his decision and orders the barrels hoisted.
Discussion and Analysis
To Ahab, the mishaps involving his leg make perfect sense, for he believes that misery begets misery. The gods themselves are not happy and “the sad birthmark in the brow of man is but the stamp of sorrow in the signer.” Ahab believes the universe to be malevolent, and his ivory leg is a symbol of that sad fact.
Ahab’s discussion with the...
(The entire section is 506 words.)
Chapters 110-114 Summary and Analysis
Perth: the Pequod’s blacksmith
Working in the dank hold to hoist the barrels, Queequeg becomes sick and nearly dies with fever. He orders the carpenter to make “a canoe” such as those in which the fallen whalemen of Nantucket are laid to rest. In the coffin, Queequeg places the iron from his harpoon, biscuits, water, and a bag of earth. He climbs in it, crosses his arms, and asks to have Yojo placed on his breast.
Pip asks Queequeg when he goes on his journey to seek out one called Pip, who has long been missing, and give him comfort. Queequeg, however, recovers when he remembers he has some duty to take care of on shore. He makes a sea chest of his coffin and on its lid, carves patterns corresponding to his tattoos.
As the Pequod sails into the Pacific, Perth, the blacksmith, prepares the tools for the whale hunting that will ensue. Perth is an unhappy old man who lost his family because of his drinking.
Ahab asks Perth to forge him a special harpoon. The iron of the harpoon is made of the nailstubs from the shoes of race horses. Ahab himself forges the shank. The barbs, made from razors, are tempered not in water, but in the blood of Tashtego, Queequeg, and Daggoo.
Discussion and Analysis
The theme of death is explored in this section. Ishmael sees the “immortal health” of the soul in the...
(The entire section is 395 words.)
Chapters 115-121 Summary and Analysis
The Bachelor: homeward bound ship full of whale oil
Full of oil, the Bachelor joyously celebrates the beginning of her homeward journey. The captain tells Ahab he has heard of the White Whale, but doesn’t believe in him. He invites Ahab aboard, but Ahab tells him to be on his way.
Soon after, as if the good luck of the Bachelor had rubbed off, the Pequod kills four whales. Ahab watches as the whale he killed turns its head to the sun, as do all dying sperm whales. Ahab’s boat stays with its whale during the night since it is too far from the ship to be brought in before nightfall.
During the night’s watch, Fedallah interprets a dream of Ahab’s. He predicts that before Ahab dies, Ahab must see two hearses on the sea, one made of American wood and one not made by mortal hands. The Parsee predicts that he will die before Ahab, yet will appear to Ahab after his death. He adds that only hemp can kill Ahab.
Taking the ship’s bearings with the quadrant, Ahab in frustration, smashes the instrument and throws it into the sea. He changes course. The Pequod is then hit by a typhoon. Her sails are torn to shreds and her rigging glows with corposants, St. Elmo’s fire. The three-pronged lightning rods at the top of each of the three masts are aflame. Ahab grabs the lower chain end of the rod to feel the...
(The entire section is 597 words.)
Chapters 122-127 Summary and Analysis
Starbuck goes below to inform Ahab that the wind has changed to a fair wind. Outside Ahab’s cabin, Starbuck removes a loaded musket from the rack. He thinks perhaps he should kill Ahab or at least overpower him and take him prisoner. He reasons that Ahab would have killed him with that very same musket, and Ahab has no compunction about endangering the whole crew. Starbuck turns from the door and sends Stubb back down to tell Ahab about the change in wind direction.
The next morning on deck, Ahab realizes the ship is sailing west, but the compass reads east. The storm had affected the compass needles, a most unsettling omen to the superstitious sailors. To allay their fears and show them his power, Ahab fashions a new compass.
Ahab orders the log and line—another measure of speed and direction—repaired after the line snaps. Pip comes along during the operation and is handled roughly by one of the sailors. Swearing he and Pip will never part, Ahab protects Pip and takes him into his own cabin.
As the ship nears the Equatorial fishing grounds, a man falls from the mast and drowns. The life buoy thrown to him proves to be damaged. The carpenter caulks Queequeg’s coffin to make it into a life buoy. Ahab wants it out of his sight.
Discussion and Analysis
Even though Starbuck knows that Ahab is mad and feels that he will “drag a whole ship’s company down to...
(The entire section is 475 words.)
Chapters 128-132 Summary and Analysis
Captain Gardiner: captain of the Rachel
The Rachel: ship that has lost a whaleboat and its men
The Delight: ship that lost five men to Moby Dick
Captain Gardiner of the Rachel begs Ahab’s help in finding a whaleboat which was last seen fastened to Moby Dick. In that whaleboat is Gardiner’s 12-year-old son. Ahab refuses.
Ahab now spends all his time on deck and refuses to be in Pip’s company. Ahab fears Pip will soften his heart and divert him from his purpose. His silent companion on deck is Fedallah, who never takes his eyes off Ahab.
Afraid that his men cannot be trusted to cry out when they see the White Whale, Ahab rigs a basket in which he is hoisted aloft. He entrusts Starbuck with the responsibility of watching the ropes that hold him high above the deck. Only minutes after Ahab has been hoisted up, a black, “savage” sea hawk dives at Ahab’s head and takes his hat.
The Pequod encounters the Delight, which has lost five men to Moby Dick. Her captain is about to bury one of the dead, and Captain Ahab unsuccessfully tries to get the Pequod away before the corpse is dropped into the sea.
The “cantankerous thing” in Ahab’s soul is temporarily dispelled by a lovely, clear day. Leaning over the side, Ahab drops a tear into the water. He...
(The entire section is 534 words.)
Chapters 133-135 and Epilogue Summary and Analysis
Ahab is the first to spot Moby Dick. All boats, except Starbuck’s, are lowered and give chase. Just when it seems the whale has sounded, he rises straight up from the deep below Ahab’s boat and bites the boat in two. Under Starbuck’s command, The Pequod, drives the whale off, and Ahab and his crew are rescued.
On the second day, Moby Dick seems intent on destroying all three boats. The harpoon lines, fast to the whale, become so entangled that Stubb’s and Flask’s boats are drawn into each other and smashed. When Ahab’s boat comes to their rescue, Moby Dick lifts it right up out of the water and dumps its men into the sea. Fedallah is drawn under in the tangle of Ahab’s line, and Ahab’s ivory leg is broken off. Once again the Pequod drives the whale away and rescues the men. Starbuck makes one last plea to Ahab to give up the hunt.
On the third day, Moby Dick smashes in the bows of Stubb’s and Flask’s boats. When the whale turns, Fedallah is seen lashed by harpoon lines to his flank. The two damaged boats return to the ship to make repairs. When Ahab harpoons Moby Dick, the whale tips his boat. Ishmael falls out, but manages to swim and stay afloat.
The harpoon line snaps as Moby Dick darts through the water and heads straight for the Pequod. The whale smashes his forehead into the side of the ship and she sinks. Ahab’s boat is the last one left. He once...
(The entire section is 595 words.)