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Moby-Dick or, the Whale
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Archived > Moby Dick - Week 4 (July/August 2016)

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Rose Rocha dos Santos (roserocha) | 192 comments Hi, everyone!

This week's reading is about: Chapters 46 - 60

Feel free to post your thoughts! :)

Kimberly | 145 comments In this section, we got to read about an actual whale hunt. :) This first one was a failure, and nearly killed several sailors, including Ishmael and Queequeg. Afterwards, Ishmael seems to have an epiphany. He writes, "There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own." And, then, he goes and writes his will. He realizes he's chosen a very dangerous profession.

A few strange things happen in this section, too. We learn Ahab has hired his own crew to man his whaleboat, although this is usually not done. And accounts for the strange sailors seen the first day and the funny noises from below. Also, Ahab will only "gam" with boats that have news instead of every boat they meet with. Also, a strange "spirit spout" is seen several nights in a row, with no whale ever seen, and the fish following the Pequod leave it to follow another boat. All seem to be foreshadowing something bad happening to the Pequod.

We hear a story about Moby Dick that was rather interesting. I'd like to know what Steelkit said to the captain to stop the flogging, that didn't bother Radney. But, alas, we weren't told. :P Although Ishmael swears it's a true story, it seems a whale tale to me. ;) But, it goes with the supernatural aspect of the Moby Dick tales. :)

This section also had several sections of "fluff" that Melville seems to like to throw in. I'm not sure why readers would be interested in the chapters about the pictures of whales, the feeding habits of right whales, and how the whale line is made and set up. Makes the reading slow going. :(

Matt (mmullerm) Very interesting thoughts, Kimberly. My thought on why Melville included all these chapters and details about whale anatomy and biology is to give his readers a complete experience of whales and what a whaling voyage entails. After reading this book, I have gained an appreciation/understanding of the early 19th century whaling industry and the immensity of whales and the grand scale and vastness of the whalers' "stomping grounds", (if you will). But, I agree, it does make for some very slow reading at times!

Although it is not in week 4's reading schedule, my favorite chapter so far is 91, when the Pequod Meets the Rose-Bud. This chapter was very humorous and enjoyable. There is a lot of humor sprinkled throughout the novel, like in the early chapters when Ishmael and Queegueg were snuggled up bunk mates, and the Rose-Bud chapter might be the funniest.

I am currently on chapter 120 and am hoping to finish today - I probably have about 60-70 pages to go, so I am on the downhill sprint now!

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments I am finding the book very uneven. Some chapters are very enjoyable - the ones with humor or about people and stories. Then he has these chapters thrown in that are essays about something. In tjis section, I enjoyed the Rodney and Steelkilt story, but I skipped the dull musings about whale pictures.

message 5: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian | 349 comments Mod
I think uneven is a good way of putting it, Marta. Melville seems to describe every last detail of every aspect of whaling, but, he seems to gloss over the part where Ishmael's boat gets swamped.

Luella Matt wrote: "Very interesting thoughts, Kimberly. My thought on why Melville included all these chapters and details about whale anatomy and biology is to give his readers a complete experience of whales and wh..."

I am glad to hear that the humor continues because that is going to make more more happy to suffer through more of the unevenness everyone is talking about.

I am really really glad I am reading this with this group. This was one of my original to-read selections when I joined Goodreads last year so I'm glad I'm reading it but I doubt I would have been able to stick to it had it not been for this group.

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