Now that I’ve gotten a bit philosophical, it’s Ishmael’s turn.
What’s fun, at least to me, about this book is that it takes its own turn at explaining the symbolism and themes. You get a sort of inside perspective on things. I can see why it would be attractive to teachers who want to impart these concepts, but the language is just too challenging for it to really work. A book that is about symbols is going to end up being too convoluted to analyze at a high school level. Continue reading “Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale”
So, now that we know what Ahab, Starbuck, Stubb, and the crew in general think of the events of The Quarter-Deck, who could possibly be left to weight in? Is there some important character who has been neglected?
Oh yes, there is that novice whaleman, named himself after some biblical figure, obviously not his real name, what was it again? Isaiah? Ezekiel? Ishmael! That was it, let’s hear what good ol’ Ishmael has to say about all this. Continue reading “Chapter 41: Moby Dick”
So, now that we’ve checked in on the officer class of the ship (minus Flask, who barely counts), it’s time to see how the rest of the crew is reacting. Since so few of them are actual, established, important characters, they don’t get whole individual chapters, not even the harpooneers.
But, what they do get is a fun format change! This chapter is written entirely in the style of a stage play. I’ve never heard of it being staged, but I wouldn’t doubt that some high school or college that was particularly arts-oriented has done it once or twice. Continue reading “Chapter 40: Midnight, Forecastle”
Every summer, I turn my eye to old Victorian-era literature. Basically anything from like the 19th or early 20th centuries.
In the past, I’ve read basically every book by Wilkie Collins, J. Sheridan le Fanu, Bram Stoker, the Brontes, and a smattering of other novels from other authors of the period. A couple years ago, I tried to read Les Miserables, but couldn’t get into it, though I did enjoy Toilers of the Sea, also by Victor Hugo. Continue reading “Some Dark and Heavy Summer Reading”
Here’s another tiny little chapter. At this rate we’ll be down to a single paragraph, then a single sentence, and perhaps even a single word will suffice.
This time, the focus is on Stubb in the aftermath of Ahab’s big revelation. He didn’t get a lot of focus in that chapter, though he was there with everyone else. How will he respond to the new plan of vengeance on the white whale, Moby Dick? Let’s find out! Continue reading “Chapter 39: First Night-Watch”
Let us now turn our attention to the recipient of Ahab’s fiery, blasphemous words, one Starbuck of Nantucket. How’s he holding up?
Well, he left the scene fearing for the the soul of himself and everyone else on the ship, so I’m gonna guess “not well”. Alas, Starbuck is doomed to be a tragic figure, as we already know from Ishmael’s preemptive eulogy. Continue reading “Chapter 38: Dusk”
So, now we’re past the big fiery chapter, and will linger a while in the afterglow. Ahab revealed his true intentions, and the world didn’t end. He has set a flame in the hearts of his men, kindled from his own, and now everyone has to deal with the fallout.
The next few chapters are pretty short, but that gives me a good opportunity to dig into some themes. That last chapter was so dense and important, there’s a lot of stuff that necessarily fell by the wayside. You could probably write entire books untangling all the various strands of meaning in that pasteboard masks speech. Continue reading “Chapter 37: Sunset”
Hoo boy, this is a big one. Not in terms of length, it doesn’t compare to Cetology, but in terms of importance and… depth of meaning?
This is one of the most famous scenes in the book. If you know two scenes, it’s probably the ending and this one. Ahab is gonna play his hand, give a big speech, and reveal his innermost secrets. Not all of his secrets, mind you, just the deepest ones. Continue reading “Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck”
Sorry for the break in updates there, I had a very busy week and then a cold. Still just barely getting over the later, but I had an urge to do some bloggin’.
So, today’s chapter returns us squarely to non-narrative status, with what amounts to a bunch of whaling trivia, at first glance. It is, in fact, very revealing about the character of both young and old Ishmael. It’s one of the more evocative chapters, getting us back to some of that fun prose we had very early on. Continue reading “Chapter 35: The Mast-Head”
Ah, and here we pull back a bit from grand philosophy and sociology.
This chapter touches merely on the domestic arrangements of the Pequod, in particular the culinary. Also, it’s just more of a fun read, and less of a confusing slog. Compared to the last chapter, this one will zip right by in a flash. Continue reading “Chapter 34: The Cabin-Table”