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Chapters 61 - 65

Chapter LXI: Stubb Kills a Whale

Hurrah! Finally, the Pequod's crew kills an honest-to-goodness whale. Spotted by Ishmael and speared by Stubb and Tashtego, the prey is a gigantic sperm whale: exactly the kind of whale the Pequod should be pursuing. Ishmael describes the chase with admirable speed, telling us how the crews use the whale line to pull themselves toward the whale once it's speared. He also tells us, in gory detail, what it looks like when a whale is speared to death: the white steam from his blowhole eventually becomes red with blood, and finally, in his "flurry" or death spasms, the whale wallows in his own torrents of blood and finally goes still.

Chapter LXII: The Dart

Ishmael spends another short chapter describing the superhuman task of the harpooneer, who must pull the oars of the whaling boat as hard as anyone else, then spring to the front of the boat, take steady aim, and throw his harpoon (the "dart") with enough force to pierce the enormous creature. In Ishmael's opinion, it would be better if the harpooneer did nothing but throw, since rowing can tire his arm.

Chapter LXIII: The Crotch

Again, no comments please! The title of this chapter refers to the notched stick on which the heavy end of the harpoon rests, allowing the harpooneer to grab it more easily when the time comes. Each "crotch" usually holds two harpoons, meaning that the whale is often struck by eight to ten spears at once.

Chapter LXIV: Stubb's Supper

Triumphant Stubb, the whale killer, returns to the ship after helping to tow the carcass in. Ahab, preoccupied with a different whale, seems indifferent to this one, but Stubb is ecstatic. He demands that Daggoo cut him a "steak" from the tapering end of his gigantic victim (apparently, whale steaks are a delicacy in Nantucket). Meanwhile, sharks begin to circle for a similar dinner, taking circular mouthfuls from the carcass that floats alongside the ship overnight. The ship's cook, in some very unfortunate "negro" dialect (Melville again is rather un-PC), offers a "sermon" on violence and proper behavior as he cooks the steak, concluding "if you gobern the shark in you, why den you be an angel." Stubb, however, ravenous for whale flesh, seems "more of shark den Massa Shark hisself."

Chapter LXV: The Whale as a Dish

Ishmael explains the history of the "outlandish" practice of whale-eating, again referring to books and legends to trace instances of this. Most sailors, he points out, don't usually eat whale because it is much too rich and fatty. Land men object to it for a different reason: it seems cruel to eat something by its own light (sperm-oil was used to power oil lamps in the 19th century), adding insult to injury. Ishmael calls this objection hypocritical: don't we eat roast beef using a knife whose handle is made from the bone of a cow? Even the members of the "Suppression of Cruelty to Ganders" society use quill pens to sign their names!

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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
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Chapters 126 - 130
Chapters 131 - 135


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