Ahoy, there shipmates!
We’re finally on board the Pequod and due to set sail, any chapter now.
I’ve had a week, not unlike Peleg and Bildad, stocking up, ticking off lists, organising and categorising, as we plan for a new adventure at work. Which is my excuse for not getting around to doing any supplementary reading on Melville this week.
Chapter 21: Going Abroad
- More Elijah impertinence & prophecy
- Mysterious, shadowy sailors only seen by Ishmael & Elijah.
- More slap-stick humour with Queequeg sitting on sleeping sailor, then laughing about how easy it would be to kill him!
- Admiration for (the as yet, unmet) Starbuck
- ‘he’s a lively chief mate…a good man, and a pious.’
- Starbuck was an important Quaker family name on Nantucket.
- Starbuck Island in the South Pacific named after this family.
- According to wikipedia:
- ‘Starbuck Island was first sighted in 1823 by Valentine Starbuck, American-born master of the British whaling ship L’Aigle on which the young king and queen of Hawaii, travelled to England in 1823–1824. However it had probably been sighted previously that same year by his cousin and fellow-whaler Capt. Obed Starbuck.’
- Ahab still ‘invisibly enshrined within his cabin‘.
Chapter 22: Merry Christmas
- Peleg & Bildad acting like the Ernie & Bert of the shipping world!
- ‘as for Captain Ahab, no sign of him was yet to be seen‘.
- Ishmael received his ‘first kick‘ – his merchant experience not so useful on a whaling ship?!
- A long voyage ahead
- ‘this day three years I’ll have a hot supper smoking for ye in old Nantucket.‘
- Setting sail on Christmas Day…reflects the Quaker belief that Christmas Day is not a special day worth celebrating as Quaker tradition says that EVERY day is sacred.
Chapter 23: The Lee-Shore
- Bulkington – barely on land from his last voyage & now heading back out to sea again.
- Foreshadowing – ‘this six-inch chapter is the stone-less grave of Bulkington.’
- A decent man, but apparently this is the last time we see or hear about him.
- An unsung hero, a regular good guy whose story is subsumed by Ahab’s mania…?
- He represents all the men on board we never meet or get to know.
Chapter 24: The Advocate
- In which Ishmael discusses whaling as an honourable vocation.
- ‘And we get a version of Australian history:
- That great America on the other side of the sphere, Australia was given to the enlightened world by the whaleman….The whale-ship is the true mother of that now mighty colony. Moreover, in the infancy of the first Australian settlement, the emigrants were several times saved from starvation by the benevolent biscuit of the whale-ship luckily dropping an anchor in their waters.’
- Hopelessly non-PC to a modern reader, but that’s how the white world viewed the world and its history until very recent times.
Chapter 25: Postscript
- In which Ishmael touches on the uses of oil in the coronation of kings and queens.
- One of the short chapters – barely a page in length.
- My new favourite word introduced – QUOGGY – meaning soft or flabby of person.
|Moby-Dick with my father-in-law’s weather gauge.|