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Chapters 21 - 25

Chapter XXI: Going Aboard

En route to the Pequod, the two men meet Elijah again. The prophet greets them with worrying words: "I was going to warn ye against - but never mind, never mind ... Shan't see ye again very soon, I guess; unless it's before the Grand Jury." Elijah's reference to the last judgment reaffirms Ishmael's sneaking suspicion that there's something unholy about the Pequod and its mysterious Captain. Still, the two sailors stick to the plan, and board the ship with the other sailors. Ahab, they learn, has already mysteriously boarded in the dead of night.

Chapter XXII: Merry Christmas

The Pequod sets sail on what seems an auspicious holiday. Peleg and Bildad see the ship off, singing dismal hymns as they deal with the mechanisms of getting a ship out of harbor. Finally, they find themselves at sea, after a "short, cold Christmas." Peleg and Bildad head back to shore after offering their words of spiritual and practical advice, and the Pequod's crew "gave three heavy-hearted cheers, and blindly plunged like fate into the lone Atlantic."

Chapter XXIII: The Lee Shore

Joining Ishmael and Queequeg on the Pequod is Bulkington, a sailor first seen at the Spouter Inn in New Bedford. In a moment of meta-fictionality, Ishmael announces that "this six-inch chapter is the stoneless grave of Bulkington," and ruminates on the "apotheosis" of death at sea.



Chapter XXIV: The Advocate

Ishmael takes it upon himself to dispel some of the false impressions many have of whale fishing. As an "advocate" of the "honor and glory" of whaling, he offers an encyclopedic account of the trade, tracing its noble history from the Bible to the courts of French kings. The chapter's wide-ranging collection of references recalls the "extracts" section of the preface; as Ishmael concludes, "a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard."

Chapter XXV: Postscript

This very short chapter is exactly that; continuing to use the learned language of a lawyer or intellectual, Ishmael adds something to the previous chapter's defense of whaling: that the very stuff used in the ceremonial coronation of monarchs is "sperm oil ... the sweetest of all oils." Whaling, it seems, is essential to the very political structures of the world.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Prefaces
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
Chapters 86 - 90
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
Epilogue



 






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