Okay, so this is embarrassing.
I totally forgot to do this chapter! It is super short, again, and doesn’t have any thematic or philosophical business to speak of. Let’s make this quick, for once!
SUMMARY: As they are refilling the scuttlebutt one night, a Spanish sailor hears something in the forward hold and tells his friend Archy, who heard nothing and doesn’t believe him. Continue reading “Chapter 43: Hark!” →
Now that we’ve got all the finnicky business of epistemological impossibility out of the way, we have some more practical matters to worry about: how do you find a whale?
You can sit around thinking and wondering all day, but you’re not gonna get anywhere unless you take action, and Ahab is our man of action in this story. While Ishmael lays and ruminates in his favorite perch among the rigging, Ahab is busy far below. Continue reading “Chapter 44: The Chart” →
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” →
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” →
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” →
So, now that we’ve gotten past that monumental chapter about every kind of whale that exists, it should be smooth sailing, right?
Well, maybe not. This chapter can be challenging in a different way. It uses a lot of winks and nods and glancing references. It’s very easy to, as I did the first time, just sort of let your eyes scan over the page and not take much in from it. Continue reading “Chapter 33: The Specksnyder” →