Moby Dick Reading Journal – Chapters 53-64

Over 52% read! I am feeling very accomplished right now!

I fell behind in my reading for a little while, and skipped my entry last week altogether because I had read so little that I had nothing new to say. But I’ve gotten over the hump. That 35-50% hump, which seems to be the place that I always stop reading a book, and struggle to pick it up again. By 50% through a book, the turning point has usually happened: a major event that will define the rest of the book, signaling progressive complications and increased action until the climax, at which point you are so nearly done with the book, that it is easy to finish. The 35-50% chunk tends to be a slow build up to the turning point, which is why, I believe it is often the time that I find most difficult to get through.

The turning point of Moby Dick was thrilling, gripping, and entirely exciting! For Melville’s epic, it was the killing of the Pequod’s first whale. Not THE whale, not Moby Dick, but another large whale that Stubb claimed the honor of offing. Per his usual attention to detail, Melville, through the eyes of Ishmael, details the entire process, the work that goes into slaying a leviathan, and the methods that would probably make slaying the next one easier for all whalers. Ishmael always has an opinion on everything!

There was also, and this just points to the genius of Melville’s style, a false scare on the part of the sailors, right before the encounter with the first whale, when they thought that they saw Moby Dick. It was not Moby Dick, but rather a giant white squid, whose appearance acted as another portent of doom and a foreshadowing of the conflict that will soon occur between Captain Ahab and the white whale. Ishmael describes how a squid is a mysterious being, barely ever seen, and even less understood. He manages to give a feeling of the inevitable, but also the mysterious, to the giant things that dwell in the deep.

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