At last, I have seen the fabled captain Ahab, and slowly, over the course of 12 more chapters, I have begun to get a whole sense of his personality. And yet I still feel like I know him very little, mostly because he strikes me as a man of action, and no action has as yet taken place. Right now, he stumps around the deck impatiently, and is taciturn and silent at the dinner table. The largest impression is that he is a large man, by which I mean his presence is imposing and almost royal, and he is intimidating and yet awe-inspiring.
Queequeg has barely been mentioned this week, and we have been introduced, instead, to one of the officers, Stump, mostly through his unfortunate interactions with the captain; for Ishmael, too, has taken a backseat in the narrative. We hear less about Ishmael‘s interactions with the officers than we do about Ahab’s. Stump’s episode was funny, because Ahab’s temper and dismissiveness of him led him, a man of little introspection, to meditate on the meaning of life and death, and he talked on for about two pages, continuously trying to stop, and yet being bothered continuously by new thoughts.
I passed the 25% mark of the book on Wednesday, which means that overall, introductions are over. That lasted a long time! Many books could’ve been over by now, but Melville took the time to not only introduce his characters, and his themes… but his whales. Yes, for like the catalog of ships in Homer, Herman Melville has a catalog of whales. He lists every whale under the sun, and gives a brief description of it, saying it’s name and what type of oil it produces, and whether or not is it is generally hunted. I should’ve been exceedingly bored by this digression and anxious to get back to the story, but I have to say it was the most interesting description of a biological subject I’ve ever heard! Melville should’ve been in charge of writing high school Biology texts! I might’ve enjoyed them more. But then again, I was more impatient in high school, and he does not seem to write briefly, so quite possibly not…
I have a feeling that before the end of next week, dire happenings will begin to occur to the crew of the Pequod, and that Queequeg will re-emerge when his profession is called upon as a harpooner. I think Ishmael will continue to take a backseat, considering that he is not an experienced whaler, and he is mostly there to work and observe, and relate the auspicious events of this unusual voyage. Ahab, I predict, will rise continuously to the forefront, and we will begin to see what it is that keeps him so moody and anxious night and day on board ship.
Have you read Moby Dick? Were you able to endure the whale catalog digression? 🐳 🐋
Happy Easter! 🐣🦋✝️