Who narrates the beginning of Moby Dick?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The sailor Ishmael narrates the beginning of Moby Dick.

The book’s first chapter opens with a strong first-person voice saying, “Call me Ishmael.”  Ishmael goes on to explain why he is telling his story.

Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. (ch 1)

Ishmael seems to just go where the wind takes him. After meeting Queequeg  at the Spouter Inn in Nantucket,  he signs up for the Pequod after Queequeg  consults Yojo, “the name of his black little god” and picks the ship for them.  Of course, this whaling ship is where the rest of the story takes place.

As a character, Ishmael is a means to an end.  He does narrate the story, but he never gets in the way of it.  He simply follows it, allowing it to take its course.