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Chapters 6 - 10

Chapter VI: The Street

New Bedford by day is nothing like the nightmarish vision confronting Ishmael on his first arrival. Ishmael is struck by the beauty and prosperity of the town, made rich by the whale trade. He is also surprised by the casual multiculturalism of its inhabitants: "Feegeeans, Tongatobooarrs, Erromangoans, Pannangians, and Brightggians" mingle with Vermonters, New Hampshiremen, and other sorts, foreshadowing the internationalism of the voyage Ishmael is about to undertake.



Chapter VII: The Chapel

The whaling-chapel of New Bedford is decorated with plaques commemorating men lost at sea. About to embark on his own voyage, Ishmael examines these marble tablets with some fear. Eventually, though, he comforts himself with metaphysical speculation: "Methinks my body is but the lees of my better being ... take it I say, it is not me."



Chapter VIII: The Pulpit

Unsurprisingly, the pulpit of the whaling-chapel is unusual. Instead of a cross, the wall behind the pulpit is decorated with another painting of a ship at sea, this time with a guardian angel hovering over it. The pulpit itself resembles "the main-top" of a ship: as Ishmael puts it, "the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow." Father Mapple ascends the pulpit-prow with a rope ladder, and pulls it up after himself.



Chapter IX: The Sermon

Father Mapple's sermon is a peculiar mix of Puritan preaching and ship talk: he summons his congregation by shouting "Starboard gangway there! Side away to larboard! Midships! Midships!" and commences a discussion of the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale (you wonder if he ever talks about anything else!). Mapple, describing himself as "the pilot of the living God," tells the story of Jonah as if he were a modern-day whaler. Jonah books passage on a whaling ship, Mapple explains, in an attempt to get away from God's wrath. As a result, the voyage fails, and the boat is tossed by rough seas until Jonah casts away to meet his fate in the jaws of the whale. Mapple's sermon uses obscure whaling terminology, and even begins to seem novelistic in its presentation of the details of the whaling ship, its recreation of dialogue between the Captain and Jonah. But it concludes with a metaphoric reading of Jonah's story: one cannot escape the power and the will of God, travel as far as he might. The sermon suggests, further, the deep theological implications of the voyage about to be undertaken by Ishmael and directed by Ahab. Perhaps the whale that they will chase is also an agent of God's wrath ...



Chapter X: A Bosom Friend

Ishmael returns to the Inn to find Queequeg silently and serenely carving his idol, and counting the pages of a book, fifty at a time. After noting Queequeg's resemblance to George Washington, Ishmael marvels at the dignity the cannibal seems to possess, and suddenly experiences a "melting" feeling towards him. Soon, they are sharing puffs on Queequeg's pipe. Ishmael accepts Queequeg's friendship offerings (a shrunken head and several silver pieces), and in exchange helps him to perform his ritual worship of the "innocent little idol."

In other words, they begin to enjoy "our heart's honeymoon ... a cosy, loving pair."

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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