We are about 1/3rd into the novel and there has been no sign of the White Whale, known by Captain Ahab as, Moby Dick.
During our Book Club For Two Skype session last night, and with our Conscious Reasonings of the first quarter of the novel behind us (click here for a recap), we delved into a discussion about Chapter 32 “Cetology” to Chapter 41 “Moby Dick.”
Believe me, it came as a surprise how dry this section (about 50 pages) was. Somewhere, without either of us knowing, the novel turned into a play with stage directions and attributed dialogues. Ishmael’s narrative is in and out at this point, with Captain Ahab and other first mates taking over the descriptive reigns. The novel is quite confusing at times, and we agreed on having to re-read certain paragraphs out of sheer confusion.
The whole purpose for their voyage was brought to light, and Captain Ahab’s vengeance is quite overwhelming. We continued to ask ourselves, what are the chances of a ubiquitous whale? One white whale, otherwise named Moby Dick, is capable of time travel – making him a supernatural whale – according to the text. Over a few laughs at how this could be possible, Meagan delcared that there very might well be, well, more than one white whale…dun dun dun.
The catalogue of whales that Herman Melville calls “Cetology,” aka the Science of Whales, reminded me of Homer’s The Iliad and his Catalogue of Ships. It was quite interesting to read about all the different kinds of whales, and what attributes constitute a whale versus a large fish.
With that said, I loved the chapter when Starbuck (one of the Captains main men) brings light to the entire situation by saying, “my soul is more than matched: she’s overmanned – and by a madman!” Moby Dick (the white whale) is not worth a lot of money, so to assist one man – Captain Ahab – in seeking revenge by killing Moby, is completely irrational. Though, it is exciting.
Yet, it is like Starbuck proclaims, you cannot go against the Captain and his ship once you’re aboard it. This would be traitorous and rebellious. So, Starbuck takes his orders as they come.
Meagan and I fell in love with the character Queequeg, and we would love to see more of him, rather than just his eating habits. Amidst all of our talk about the novel, Meagan and I realized that we are both irrationally afraid of the water (or ocean). Maybe she is more scared than I am, and apparently, she believes that you just don’t know what’s out there (sharks).
Neither of us being strong swimmers, I don’t think we would survive in a battle against any white whale, let alone Moby Dick. We are able to tread water, and float, but if we were forced to survive – I just don’t think we would.