Thursday, July 5, 2012

Out to Sea

Chapter 18 – The Mark
This next day, Queequeg went with Ishmael to join the Pequod, and upon arriving, Peleg inquired of his conversion to Christianity; Ishmael gave a quickly sermon of how we all belong to the First Congregational Church, but once they saw Queequeg’s harpoon, he was in.  Unfortunately, they agree to pay Queequeg less than Ishmael.

Chapter 19 – The Prophet
Immediately after leaving the Pequod, Ishmael and Queequeg are approached by an odd stranger who harasses them about meeting Captain Ahab, though he speaks in generalities and does not share what he knows.  He said his name is Elijah; and Ishmael and Queequeg want nothing more to do with him.

Chapter 20 – All Astir
The last few days before the Pequod was set to sail, much work was done preparing her for the voyage, which involves packing for “a three-years’ housekeeping upon the wide ocean…”  Meanwhile, Ishmael still contemplates why he has not seen or met Captain Ahab so near to the day of departure. 

Chapter 21 – Going Aboard
Ishmael and Queequeg go aboard the Pequod, but not before being accosted once more by Elijah.   At 6 AM, no one was astir, but by sunrise, the crew came aboard, although Ahab remained within his cabin.

Chapter 22 – Merry Christmas
Captain Peleg and Captain Bildad lead the Pequod out to sea on Christmas Day.  I suppose Ishmael is slack on his responsibility because he gets a poke in the rear from Peleg.  When they are no longer needed, Peleg and Bildad head back to the wharf.

Chapter 23 – The Lee Shore
Ishmael describes a sailor named Bulkington, a man destined to die at sea and become a legend as a demigod.  “Better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety!”- sounds a lot like Achilles, the Greek demigod who rather die young in battle, than live a long life unknownA true warrior!  

Chapter 24 – The Advocate
Why are whalers not equal to liberal professions?  1.) The world declines honoring whalemen because whaling involves butchering; and furthermore: 2.) the whale has no famous author, no famous chronicler; 3.) no good blood in their veins; 4.) whaling is not respectable; 5.) the whale never figured in any grand imposing way; and 6.) there is no dignity in whaling.  But Ishmael decries all these suppositions and says: “a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.”

Chapter 25 – Postscript
Ishmael adds that the very point that whaling supplies sperm whale oil to the kings for anointing is one more reason for whaling and whalemen should be honored.

Chapter 26 – Kings and Squires
Now Ismael gives an account of the mates and their duties: Starbuck is dependable chief mate who prefers men who are afraid of whales as opposed to a fearless man because “ an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward.”  Ishmael expresses how he is willing to overlook a man’s faults when God’s democracy is obvious in him.

Chapter 27 – Kings and Squires
Second mate is Stubb and a rather easy-going fellow, and third mate is Flask who takes whaling personally.  These two mates, plus Starbuck, like Knights, are responsible for the three Pequod’s boats as headsmen and captains of companies of crew.  Next come the harpooners, or squires: Queequeg, Tashtego, and Daggoo.

Ishmael calls the less than half of the company Americans who do the remainder of the work in whaling because the whaling industry is like any other American industries in which “the native American liberally provides the brains, the rest of the world as generously supplying the muscles.”

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