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Moby Dick Discussion > Chapter 20: All Astir

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message 1: by Vikk (new)

Vikk Simmons (downthewriterspath) | 173 comments Mod
Moby-Dick Big Read
Chapter 20 - Read by Avril Bellinger

Colorful art today by Lucy and Jorge Orta.

message 2: by Vikk (last edited Oct 18, 2012 10:14AM) (new)

Vikk Simmons (downthewriterspath) | 173 comments Mod
I enjoyed the bustling activity of this chapter. I found it had a real sense of movement. I can imagine how a reader at the time without the benefit of the nonstop images we have today would find and be responsive to all the captured moments. (Love that wigwam, too, and what an image it brought of the captain surveying his domain and his minions.)

When Melville brought Aunt Charity on stage, she was sharply defined against the backdrop he'd created.

Cleary Melville's background helped him immensely when it came to describing everything that had to be done and went a long way in his ability to bring the whole whale fishing adventure to life. That authentic air lifts and helps animate these passages so that they're not flat and dead paragraphs of text.

Melville has a lot of great moments and I had to smile when he talked about the whole hurry up and wait aspect of getting the trunks on board.

The detail Melville brings is worth noting, too. Aunt Charity doesn't just bring "things on board," but brings a jar of pickles one day and bunch of quills, followed by the flannel "for the small of some one's rheumatic back." I didn't quite get why Ishmael was starteled at Charity's coming on board with the "long oil-ladle in one hand, and a still longer whaling lance in the other."

Anyway, I enjoyed this chapter and felt a bit of that mounting excitement as the ship was readied to sail. I also liked the comment from the New York blog about the way the book is written as a reflective narrator and how Melville is using that to help build tension.

message 3: by Hayes (last edited Oct 05, 2012 11:25PM) (new)

Hayes (Hayes13) I enjoyed this chapter too, and share the confusion about the lance and the ladle... Perhaps because they were large heavy and/or dangerous items, and a woman shouldn't be lifting such things?

I liked the reader too, one of the few women we have heard from. She is apparently a professor at Plymouth university in the UK. Off to read the blog.

ETA: as to the question of whether Ishmael is being honest with himself and with us, I thought it was just a way to further warn us (as if the biblical references of the stories of Ahab, Jonah, etc., hadn't already warned us) that something bad is going to happen.

message 4: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (Stewartry) I just took it as being about the incongruity of a plump older lady, in all the trappings of a Quaker spinster lady of the time, carrying a harpoon. I have a photo I took at a weapons booth at the Renaissance Festival years ago of this adorable grandmotherly type, with a flowered hat and a pretty apron and a big smile on her face, and a hatchet in either hand. It just makes me happy.

message 5: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (Hayes13) hahaha! I love ingoncruous things like that... and how in the blazes do you spell that word... incongruous

got it... I'm not dylsexic, oh no I'm not.

message 6: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (Stewartry) Dyslexics of the world untie! :p

message 7: by giselayvonne (new)

giselayvonne | 21 comments love this, very true; sometimes, it is difficult to listen to your gut
"But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself."

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