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The inn where he arrives is overcrowded, so he must share a bed with the tattooed Polynesian Queequega harpooneer whose father was king of the fictional island of Rokovoko. Ishmael signs up with the Quaker ship-owners Bildad and Peleg for a voyage on their whaler Pequod.
Peleg describes Captain Ahab: They hire Queequeg the following morning. A man named Elijah prophesies a dire fate should Ishmael and Queequeg join Ahab. While provisions are loaded, shadowy figures board the ship. On a cold Christmas Day, the Pequod leaves the harbor.
Ishmael discusses cetology the zoological classification and natural history of the whaleand describes the crew members.
Ahab will give the first man to sight Moby Dick a doubloona gold coin, which he nails to the mast. Starbuck objects that he has not come for vengeance but for profit.
Five previously unknown men appear on deck and are revealed to be a special crew selected by Ahab. The pursuit is unsuccessful. Moby Dick Southeast of the Cape of Good Hopethe Pequod makes the first of nine sea-encounters, or "gams", with other ships: Ahab hails the Goney Albatross to ask whether they have seen the White Whale, but the trumpet through which her captain tries to speak falls into the sea before he can answer.
In the second gam off the Cape of Good Hope, with the Town-Ho, a Nantucket whaler, the concealed story of a "judgment of God" is revealed, but only to the crew: The whale is prepared, beheaded, and barrels of oil are tried out. Standing at the head of the whale, Ahab begs it to speak of the depths of the sea.
The Pequod next encounters the Jeroboam, which not only lost its chief mate to Moby Dick, but also is now plagued by an epidemic. The whale carcass still lies in the water.
Ishmael compares the two heads in a philosophical way: Tashtego cuts into the head of the sperm whale and retrieves buckets of oil. He falls into the head, and the head falls off the yardarm into the sea. Queequeg dives after him and frees his mate with his sword.
The Pequod next gams with the Jungfrau from Bremen. Both ships sight whales simultaneously, with the Pequod winning the contest.A summary of Themes in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.
Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Moby-Dick and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.
Home / Literature / Moby-Dick / Analysis / Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory ; Analysis / Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory ; SHMOOP PREMIUM Summary SHMOOP PREMIUM SHMOOP PREMIUM. A summary of Themes in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Moby-Dick and what it means.
throughout history, the whale has taken on an incredible multiplicity of meanings.
Over the course of the novel, he makes use of nearly every discipline known to man in his attempts to understand. But what is this lesson that the book of Jonah teaches? Shipmates, it is a two-stranded lesson; a lesson to us all as sinful men, and a lesson to me as a pilot of the living God.
Shipmates, it is a two-stranded lesson; a lesson to us all as sinful men, and a lesson to me as a pilot of the living God. Herman Melville probably made Moby Dick a white whale because that was the only way the sailors could identify him as Moby Dick. Melville may have then attached specialized symbolism to the color.
Use our free chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis of Moby-Dick. It helps middle and high school students understand Herman Melville's literary masterpiece.