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Chapters 101 - 105

Chapter CI: The Decanter

The encounter with the Samuel Enderby leads Ishmael to comment that Nantucketers were already hunting whales long before the first English whaling fleet in 1775, but that the English whalemen were nevertheless bold and merry sailors. He tells the history of the bold English sailor after whom the Samuel Enderby was named, and recalls an incident "long, very long after old Ahab touched her planks," that he, Ishmael, went aboard the Samuel Enderby again and had a great feast of beef, beer and bread. This meeting would have to have occurred sometime between the end of the action narrated in the novel and the point at which Ishmael begins writing it down.

Chapter CII: A Bower in the Arsacides

Ishmael continues his effort to describe the whale as thoroughly as possible. He has already treated its external appearance, even his flesh, but now he declares "it behooves me to unbutton him still further" and to examine the whale's "unconditional skeleton," the "framework of leviathan." Ishmael explains that he was able to study the whale skeleton closely because he happened to witness the capture and dissection of a baby Sperm Whale, which possessed a miniature replica of the larger skeleton. He adds that he gained some experience of adult whale bones in the kingdom of Tranque in the Arsacides Islands, as a guest of King Tranquo. There, he visited an entire skeleton of an enormous beached Sperm Whale that had been hidden among the trees and made into a temple; he "wandered, eddied long amid its many winding shaded colonnades and arbors," taking the measurements of the adult skeleton. At the end of the chapter, Ishmael offers to tell the reader these measurements, "copied verbatim from my right arm, where I had them tattooed." Apparently, in his effort to understand the whale, Ishmael did not feel that he could afford to lose such precious information.

Chapter CIII: Measurement of the Whale's Skeleton

Ishmael begins the task of copying his tattooed measurements. A whale skeleton, we learn, is 72 feet long, which means the whale was probably about 90 feet long when alive. Of this, the skull and jaw make up 20 feet, and the rest consists of backbone and ribs. The ribs range from 6-8 feet in length, and the vertebrae range between 2 inches and 3 feet in width. Ishmael concludes, in the end, that one can never get a sense of the majesty of the whale from its bare skeleton; the living creature is much more majestic. Once dead, the vertebrae of this mighty creature can be used by children "to play marbles with."

Chapter CIV: The Fossil Whale

Ishmael considers, for what seems the millionth time, the impossibility of fully describing the whale. Still, he hopes to be "omnisciently exhaustive" in his attempt to do so, overlooking no aspect of whale-ness. Having examined the whale inside and out, he now takes "an archaeological, fossiliferous and antediluvian point of view," referring to geology and paleontology to describe evidence of prehistoric whales. With some terror, he concludes that the whale has existed "before all time," and will certainly outlive the human race. The chapter ends with another instance of a sea-side "temple" made of whale-bones cast up onto shore; according to legend whatever whale swims by the temple will die instantly. Though Ishmael knows that this is mere superstition, he nevertheless admits that all whalemen should "silently worship there."

Chapter CV: Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish? - Will He Perish?

The short answer to these questions is "no." Ishmael notes that all fossil whales are smaller in size than recent whales, and that the longevity of whales is so incredible that we might suspect them to be immortal.

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Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1 - 5
Chapters 6 - 10
Chapters 11 - 15
Chapters 16 - 20
Chapters 21 - 25
Chapters 26 - 30
Chapters 31 - 35
Chapters 36 - 40
Chapters 41 - 45
Chapters 46 - 50
Chapters 51 - 55
Chapters 56 - 60
Chapters 61 - 65
Chapters 66 - 70
Chapters 71 - 75
Chapters 76 - 80
Chapters 81 - 85
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Chapters 91 - 95
Chapters 96 - 100
Chapters 101 - 105
Chapters 106 - 110
Chapters 111 - 115
Chapters 116 - 120
Chapters 121 - 125
Chapters 126 - 130
Chapters 131 - 135


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