Рефераты. American Literature books summary

a favorite among whalemen because of his sincerity and sanctity. Once a

sailor and harpooner, Mapple now delivers sermons. His theme for this

Sunday: Jonah, the story of the prophet swallowed by "a great fish." (Today

we talk about "Jonah and the Whale.") Mapple preaches a story about man's

sin, willful disobedience of the command of God, and ight from Him. But,

says Mapple, the story also speaks to him personally as a command "To

preach the Truth in the face of Falsehood!" with a confidence born from

knowing God's will.

Chapters 10-21


In these chapters we learn more about the relationship between Ishmael and

Queequeg. Upon third consideration, Ishmael develops a great respect for

his new friend. Although still a "savage," Queequeg becomes, in Ishmael's

mind, "George Washington cannibalistically developed." Furthermore, after

having intimate chats with him in bed, Ishmael admires Queequeg's sincerity

and lack of Christian "hollow courtesies." Quick friends, they are

"married" after a social smoke. The chapter called Biographical gives more

information on Queequeg's past, detailing the harpooner's life as a son of

a High Chief or King of Kokovoko. Intent on seeing the world, he paddled

his way to a departing ship and persisted so stubbornly that they finally

allowed him to stow away as a whaleman. Queequeg can never go back because

his interaction with Christianity has made him unfit to ascend his

homeland's "pure and undefiled throne" and so, says Ishmael, "that barbed

iron [a harpoon] was in lieu of a sceptre now."

Together, they set off with a wheelbarrow full of their things for

Nantucket. On the packet over to Nantucket, a bumpkin mimics

Queequeg.Queequeg ips him around to punish him, and is subsequently scolded

by the captain. But when the bumpkin is swept overboard as the ship has

technical dificulties, Queequeg takes charge of the ropes to secure the

boat and then dives into the water to save the man overboard. This action

wins everyone's respect.

Melville then writes a bit about Nantucket's history, about the "red-

men"who first settled there, its ecology, its dependence on the sea for


When the two companions arrive, they have a pot of the best chowder at the

Try Pots. Charged by Yojo (Queequeg's wooden idol) to seek a ship for the

two of them, Ishmael comes upon the Pequod, a ship "with an old fashioned

claw-footed look about her" and "apparelled like any barbaric Ethiopian

emperor, his neck heavy with pendants of polished ivory." But the Pequod is

not just exotic to Ishmael; he also calls it a "cannibal of a craft"

because it is bejeweled with whale parts. On board, he makes a deal with

Peleg and Bildad, the Quaker owners of the ship, characterized as conniving

cheapskates and bitter taskmasters. Evaluating Ishmael for his lay (portion

of the ship's proffts, a whaleman's wage), Peleg finally gives him the

300th lay. (This, Bildad says, is "generous.") At this time, Ishmael also

learns that the ship's captain is Ahab, named after a wicked and punished

Biblical king. Although Ahab has seemed a little moody since he lost his

leg to the white whale Moby Dick, Bildad and Peleg believe in his

competence. Ishmael does not meet the captain in person until much later.

Returning to the inn, Ishmael allows Queequeg a day for his "Ramadan"

ceremonies and then becomes worried when his friend does not answer the

door in the evening. When the panicking Ishmael finally gets the door open,

he finds Queequeg deep in meditation. The next day, they return to the

Pequod to sign Queequeg up. Though the owners object at first to Queequeg's

paganism, the Kokovokan impresses them with his skill by hitting a spot of

tar on a mast with a harpoon. They give him the 90th lay, "more than ever

was given a harpooneer yet out of Nantucket." Although Bildad still tries

to convert Queequeg, Peleg tells him to give up. "Pious harpooneers never

make good voyagers { it takes the shark out of 'em; no harpooneer is worth

a straw who aint pretty sharkish."

Just after signing the papers, the two run into a man named Elijah (a

prophet, or just some frightening stranger) who hints to them about the

peril of signing aboard Ahab's ship. They disregard him. For several days,

there is preparation for the dangerous voyage. When they are near the ship,

Ishmael thinks that he sees some "shadows" boarding the ship, but then

dismisses the idea. Elijah warns them again just before they board.

Chapters 22-31


At Christmas, the ship finally heaves off from the port and Ishmael gets

his first taste of the rigors of whaling life. As the boat sails away from

civilization, Bulkington, a noble sailor that Ishmael saw at the Coffn inn,

appears on the Pequod's decks, and makes Ishmael wax sentimental about the

heroism in sailing into the deeps.

In the chapter called The Advocate, Ishmael defends the whaling profession

in a series of arguments and responses. Whaling is a heroic business, he

says, that is economically crucial (for the oil) and has resulted in

geographical discovery. He finds the utmost dignity in whaling: a subject

of good genealogy, worthy enough for Biblical writers and also educational.

These, he says, are facts. He can't praise sperm whaling enough and even

suggests that sperm oil has been used to anoint kings because it is the

best, purest, and sweetest.

In the chapter called Knights and Squires, we meet the mates and their

lieutenants. The first mate, Starbuck, is a pragmatic, reliable

Nantucketer. Speaking about Starbuck leads Ishmael to carry on about the

working man and democratic equality. The pipe-smoking second mate Stubb, a

native of Cape Cod, is always cool under pressure and has "impious good


Third mate Flask, a native of Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard, is a short,

stocky fellow with a confrontational attitude and no reverence for the

dignity of the whale. He is nicknamed "King-Post" because he resembles the

short, square timber known by that name in Arctic whalers. Already

introduced, Queequeg is Starbuck's harpooner. Stubb's "squire" is Tashtego,

"an unmixed Indian from Gay Head" (Martha's Vineyard). Flask's harpooner is

Daggoo, "a gigantic, coal-black negro-savage" from Africa with an imperial


The rest of the crew is also mostly international. But, says Ishmael, all

these "Isolatoes" are "federated along one keel" and unified by

accompanying Ahab. Ishmael also makes small mention of Pip, a poor Alabama

boy who beats a tambourine on ship.

Ahab finally appears on deck and Ishmael observes closely. He sees Ahab as

a very strong, willful figure, though his encounter with the whale has

scarred him. Certainly, Ahab seems a bit psychologically troubled. Ahab's

relationship to others on the boat is one of total dictatorship. When Stubb

complains about Ahab's pacing, Ahab calls him a dog and advances on him.

Stubb retreats. The next morning, Stubb wakes up and explains to Flask that

he had a dream that Ahab kicked him with his ivory leg. (The title of this

chapter, Queen Mab, refers to Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet, in

which the character Mercutio talks about weird dreams.)

Chapters 32-40

"Cetology," as Ishmael explains, is "the science of whales." In the

Cetology chapter and subsequent cetology- like chapters in the book,

Ishmael tries to dissect whales scientifically. After including some

quotations from previous writers on the whale, Ishmael says he here

attempts a "draught" (draft) of a whale classification system that others

can revise. He divides the whales into books and chapters (like today's

Linnaean system that includes genus and species). His first subject is the

sperm whale. At the end of the chapter, he pronounces it a "drought of a

draught." The Specksynder is another cetology-like chapter in that it tries

to dissect the whaling industry. Beginning with trivia about the changing

role of the specksynder (literally, "fat-cutter"), who used to be chief

harpooneer and captain, Ishmael moves on to a discussion of leadership

styles, particularly that of royal or imperial leaders.

The chapter called The Cabin-Table returns to the plot, showing the ship's

offcers at dinner. This is a rigid afiair over which Ahab presides. After

the offcers finish, the table is re-laid for the harpooneers. Then Ishmael

discusses his first post on the mast-head watching for whales. He writes a

history of mast-heads and their present role on a whaling ship. Ishmael,

who can rarely stick only to one subject or one level of thinking,

discusses metaphorical meanings of what he sees. Then, in the chapter

called The Quarter-Deck, he returns to narrative plot, dramatizing Ahab's

first offcial appearance before the men. Ahab's call and response tests the

crew, checking whether they know what to do, and unites them under his


Presenting a Spanish gold doubloon, he proclaims. "Whosoever of ye raises

me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever

of ye raises me that while-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his

starboard uke - look ye, whosoever of ye raises that same white whale, he

shall have this gold ounce, my boys!" The men cheer. Ahab then confesses,

in response to Starbuck's query, that it was indeed this white whale Moby

Dick who took off his leg, and announces his quest to hunt him down. The

men shout together that they will hunt with Ahab, though Starbuck protests.

Ahab then begins a ritual that binds the crew together. He fills a cup with

alcohol and everyone on the ship drinks from that agon. Telling the

harpooners to cross their lances before him, Ahab grasps the weapons and

anoints Queequeg, Tashtego, and Daggoo "my three pagan kinsmen there -yon

three most honorable gentlemen and noble men." He then makes them take the

iron off of the harpoons to use as drinking goblets. They all drink

together while Ahab proclaims, "God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby

Dick to his death!"

Another chapter beginning with a stage direction, Sunset is a melancholy

monologue by Ahab. He says that everyone thinks he is mad and he agrees

somewhat. He self- consciously calls himself "demoniac" and "madness

maddened." Even though he seems to be the one orchestrating events, he does

not feel in control: "The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails,

whereon my soul is grooved to run." Dusk is Starbuck's monologue. Though he

feels that it will all come out badly, he feels inextricably bound to Ahab.

When he hears the revelry coming from the crew's forecastle, he laments the

whole, doomed voyage. First Night-Watch is Stubb's monologue, giving

another perspective on the voyage. Midnight, Forecastle is devoted to the

jolly men who take turns showing off and singing together. They get into a

fight when the Spanish Sailor makes fun of Daggoo. The onset of a storm,

however, stops their fighting and makes them tend to the ship.

Chapters 41-47


Ishmael is meditative again, starting with a discussion of the white

whale's history. Rumors about Moby Dick are often out of control, he says,

because whale fishermen "are by all odds the most directly brought into

contact with whatever is appallingly astonishing in the sea; face to face

they not only eye its greatest marvels, but, hand to jaw, give battle to

them." It is easy to attach metaphorical meaning or make up legend about

dangerously intense, life-threatening experiences. Ishmael is skeptical,

though, about assertions that Moby Dick is immortal. He admits that there

is a singular whale called Moby Dick who is distinguished by his "peculiar

snow-white wrinkled forehead, and a high, pyramidical white hump" and that

this whale is known to have destroyed boats in a way that seems

"intelligent." No wonder Ahab hates the white whale, says Ishmael, since it

does seem that Moby Dick did it out of spite.

Intertwined with Moby Dick's history is Ahab's personal history. When the

white whale took off Ahab's leg, the whale became to Ahab "the monomaniac

incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating

in them, till they are left living on with half a heart and half a lung."

Ahab's reaction was to magnify the symbolism of the whale: the whale didn't

just take off his leg, but represents everything that he hates and

everything that torments him. Ahab went crazy on the trip home, says

Ishmael, though he tried to appear sane.

The Whiteness of the Whale turns from what Moby Dick means to Ahab, to what

it means to Ishmael. Above all, he says, it is the whiteness of the whale

that appalls him. (Note Ishmael's pun{the root of the word "appall"

literally means to turn white.) Ishmael begins his cross-cultural

discussion of "whiteness" by saying how much it has been idealized as

virtue or nobility.

To him, however, the color white only multiplies terror when it is attached

with any object "terrible" in itself.

After a short dramatic scene (Hark!) where the sailors say to each other

that they think there may be something or someone in the after-hold,

Ishmael returns to an examination of Ahab in The Chart. Because Ahab

believes that his skill with charts will help him locate Moby Dick, Ishmael

discusses how one might scientifically track a whale. In The Afidavit,

Ishmael explains in organized form "the natural verity of the main points

of this afiair." He realizes that this story seems preposterous in many

ways and wants to convince the reader that his story is real by listing the

"true" bases for this story in quasi-outline form (first, personal

experiences, then tales of whale fishermen or collective memory, and

finally books). He then looks at why people may not believe these stories.

Perhaps readers haven't heard about the perils or vivid adventures in the

whaling industry, he says. Or maybe they do not understand the immensity of

the whale. He asks that the audience use "human reasoning" when judging his


The chapter called Surmises returns the focus to Ahab, considering how the

captain will accomplish his revenge. Because Ahab must use men as his

tools, Ahab has to be very careful. How can he motivate them? Ahab can

appeal to their hearts, but also he knows that cash will keep them going.

Ahab further knows that he has to watch that he does not leave himself open

to charges of "usurpation." That is, he has to follow standard operating

procedure, lest he give his offcers reason to overrule him.

The Mat-Maker returns to the plot. Ishmael describes slow, dreamy

atmosphere on the ship when they are not after a whale. He and Queequeg are

making a sword-mat, and, in a famous passage, likens their weaving to work

on "the Loom of Time." (The threads of the warp are fixed like necessity.

Man has limited free will: he can interweave his own woof crossthreads into

this fixed structure. When Queequeg's sword hits the loom and alters the

overall pattern, Ishmael calls this chance.) What jolts him out of his

reverie is Tashtego's call for a whale. Suddenly, everyone is busied in

preparations for the whale hunt. Just as they are about to push off in

boats, "five dusky phantoms" emerge around Ahab.

Chapters 48-54


These chapters return us to the action of Moby-Dick. We meet Fedallah for

the first time, described as a dark, sinister figure with a Chinese jacket

and turban made from coiling his own hair around his head. We also meet for

the first time the "tiger-yellow ... natives of the Manillas" (Ahab's boat

crew) who were hiding in the hold of the Pequod. The other crews are

staring at the newly discovered shipmates, but Flask tells them to continue

doing their jobs{that is, to concentrate on hunting the whale.

The Pequod's first lowering after the whale is not very successful.

Queequeg manages to get a dart in the whale but the animal overturns the


The men are nearly crushed by the ship as it passes looking for them,

because a squall has put a mist over everything.

The chapter called The Hyena functions as a mooring of sorts{a self-

conscious look back that puts everything in perspective. In this chapter,

Ishmael talks about laughing at things, what a hyena is known for. Finding

out that such dangerous conditions are typical, Ishmael asks Queequeg to

help him make his will.

Ishmael then comments on Ahab's personal crew. Ahab's decision to have his

own boat and crew, says Ishmael, is not a typical practice in the whaling

industry. But however strange, "in a whaler, wonders soon wane" because

there are so many unconventional sights in a whaler: the sheer variety of

people, the strange ports of call, and the distance and disconnectedness of

the ships themselves from land-based, conventional society. But even though

whalemen are not easily awe-struck, Ishmael does say "that hair- turbaned

Fedallah remained a mufied mystery to the last." He is "such a creature as

civilized, domestic people in the temperate zone only see in their dreams,

and that but dimly."

Ishmael then focuses on Fedallah. On the masthead one night, the Parsee

thinks he sees a whale spouting. The whole ship then tries to follow it,

but the whale is not seen again until some days later. Ishmael calls it a

"spirit-spout" because it seems to be a phantom leading them on. Some think

it might be Moby Dick leading the ship on toward its destruction. The ship

sails around the Cape of Good Hope (Africa), a particularly treacherous


Through it all, Ahab commands the deck robustly and even when he is down in

the cabin, he keeps his eye on the cabin-compass that tells him where the

ship is going.

They soon see a ship called "The Goney," or Albatross, a vessel with a

"spectral appearance" that is a long way from home. Of course, Ahab asks

them as they pass by, "Have ye seen the White Whale?" While the other

captain is trying to respond, a gust of wind blows the trumpet from his


Their wakes cross as both ships continue on. The Pequod continues its way

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