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Chapters 66 - 70

Chapter LXVI: The Shark Massacre

During the night, Stubb and Queequeg systematically murder many of the sharks that are attacking the whale carcass, so that it is not entirely spoiled by morning.



Chapter LXVII: Cutting In

The moment we've all been waiting for: Ishmael tells us how to butcher a dead whale! The Pequod's men wake the next morning - a Sunday - and commence what seems like an enormous blood sacrifice. Every sailor helps the "cutting in," which involves stripping away the foot-thick coating of blubber from the whale so that it can be boiled down for oil. This is done by attaching a large hook, tied to a rope, to the floating whale's blubber; the whale is then spun around and the blubber is pulled off in one long strip, kind of like peeling an apple. The long piece is then cut into smaller ones, which are taken into the "blubber-room" for refining.



Chapter LXVIII: The Blanket

Ishmael asks a question: "what and where is the skin of the whale?" Is it the very thin translucent substance that you can scrape off of the whale's outer surface? Ishmael thinks this latter substance is the "skin of the skin," and that the real skin is the blubber itself, which is thick enough to act as a "blanket," keeping the whale warm even in Arctic seas. He describes the appearance of the whale's surface, which actually looks as if it has "hieroglyphic" writing under its surface. Is the whale some kind of text?



Chapter LXIX: The Funeral

After the blubber has been stripped, the Pequod lets the rest of the whale carcass float away, in a "funeral" attended by vultures and sharks.



Chapter LXX: The Sphynx

Before the whale carcass is set adrift, it is carefully beheaded. This, Ishmael notes, is a complicated process; since whales don't really have necks, it is hard to tell just where its skull ends and its spine begins. Generally, a whale's head is one third of its total length. In this instance, the Pequod's crew manages to hoist the whale's enormous head on deck before they go to lunch. Ahab, left alone with the "black and hooded" head, begins to speak to it as if it possesses some dark powers: "tell us the secret thing that is in thee." The whale, unsurprisingly, does not respond.

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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