Chapter 49: The Hyena

Today we’ve got another nice little short chapter, to bookend the lengthy one from last time.

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We’re going to zoom in on Ishmael, which is something that’s been more and more rare since the launch of the final voyage of the Pequod. Early on, he was the focus of every chapter, our point of view into this new world of whaling, but in the grand scheme of the story being told, he’s not particularly relevant. Continue reading “Chapter 49: The Hyena”

Chapter 48: The First Lowering

Here we go! Time to go kill a god damned sea monster!

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Or, make an attempt, at any rate. It’s really a very difficult thing, taking down such a large and powerful creature. Of course, we humans have made our bones on taking down things much larger and more powerful than ourselves. Perhaps the whale itself is not always the biggest obstacle, though. Continue reading “Chapter 48: The First Lowering”

Chapter 47: The Mat-Maker

Ah, what a perfect time of year to read this chapter, in particular.

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The weather has been much like that described in this chapter, lately. As it is the Pacific Northwest, we have a certain reputation to keep up with regards to sunshine and a lack thereof, but it is still very pleasant in the summer. When the temperature hovers in the low to mid 70s (fahrenheit, of course), and it gets just a little humid, it is just the most seductive and perfect weather imaginable. Continue reading “Chapter 47: The Mat-Maker”

Chapter 43: Hark!

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!

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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!”

Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck

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?

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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”

Chapter 34: The Cabin-Table

Ah, and here we pull back a bit from grand philosophy and sociology.

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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”

Chapter 27: Knights and Squires

Here we are again, taking a second crack at introducing the rest of the principal characters on this voyage. Now that Old Ishmael has had his feelings about the faults of courageous men, we get on with it.

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I didn’t even notice that these chapter have the same title until this reading. Just goes to show how little you can pay attention to a book when you’re just trying to make progress. Continue reading “Chapter 27: Knights and Squires”

Chapter 22: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Boy, the timing on this one sure didn’t work out. Yes, as it turns out, the Pequod launches on Christmas day of… some… unknown year? I could just go grab the same date as the launching of the Essex, the real, actual whaling ship that was sunk by a sperm whale, and say “ah yes, clearly this is Ishmael recounting his voyage on that famous boat through the Medium of Fiction” or some such thing.

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But, as it happens, the sinking of the Essex is mentioned in this book, by Ishmael, as proof that it is in fact possible for a whaling ship to be sunk by a whale. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s not for a while, I don’t think. Let’s get into today’s chapter. Continue reading “Chapter 22: Merry Christmas”

Chapter 21: Going Aboard

It’s time! Time to get in a boat and go hunt some actual, factual, living whales.

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Well, it’s not quite time for the hunting part yet, but it is time for this most famous of American maritime novels to actually get to the part where they’re on the ocean. Technically, they’ve already been there, it’s hard to avoid when you’re going to Nantucket, but you know what I mean! The whaling voyage! It’s… well, it’s time to go aboard, as the title says. Let’s get into it.

Continue reading “Chapter 21: Going Aboard”

Chapter 20: All Astir

Today’s chapter is pretty short and breezy, but still does some important work. As we approach the fateful voyage of the Pequod, the omens and portents of its ruin are gathering thick in the air.

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But, there are still the final preparations to make. So many little things must be taken care of. The ship will be away from land for three whole years, so they must plan for every eventuality. Continue reading “Chapter 20: All Astir”