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 39: First Night-Watch

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.

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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”

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 31: Queen Mab

Who doesn’t love a good description of somebody else’s dream? What’s that? Everyone? Everyone doesn’t love that?

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Well, too bad, that’s what this chapter is about. Luckily, while it is rather accurate to vague recollections of dreams in some ways, it is not quite as awful as having to hear about a real dream. This is still a piece of literature, Melville knows what he’s doing. Continue reading “Chapter 31: Queen Mab”

Chapter 29: Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb

This book is going to continue being a bit strange, playing with the form of the novel in some interesting ways. Just recently we had chapter titles repeating, and here we have one that’s a set of stage directions.

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It brings to mind the way that some books have a little summary of what happens in the chapter in the table of contents. “In which such and such does so and so and meets with what’s-her-name”, you know the type. Continue reading “Chapter 29: Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb”

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”