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Chapters 71 - 75

Chapter LXXI: The Jeroboam's Story

The Pequod encounters another ship, the Jeroboam of Nantucket. Once again, the usual gam does not happen, this time because the other ship has a sickness on board and is quarantined. Nevertheless, a boat from the Jeroboam pulls alongside the Pequod so that their captain, Mayhew, can have a shouted conversation with Ahab. Stubb notices a wild-looking man pulling an oar in the boat, and recognizes him as someone described by a member of the Town-Ho's crew. Apparently, the man was a Shaker (a fanatic brand of Protestant), who had announced that he was the archangel Gabriel, commanded the captain to jump overboard, and declared himself governor of "all Oceanica." Most of the rest of the crew had ignored him as a harmless lunatic, but somehow Gabriel managed to gather a large band of "believers" among the crew, who refused to allow the captain to dismiss him at the next port. The captain allowed Gabriel to stay, even when he declared that the illness on ship was "his command." It is this man who now helps row the Jeroboam's boat toward the Pequod. When Ahab asks the inevitable question, "Have you seen the white whale?" Mayhew responds with a story about Moby Dick's fatal attack on Harry Macey, one of their crew members. Gabriel, convinced that Moby Dick is the "Shaker God incarnated," tells Ahab not to hunt the white whale further. Ahab ignores the "archangel," and instead tells Captain Mayhew that the Pequod is carrying a letter, several years old, for one of the Jeroboam's sailors. This sailor, alas, turns out to be Macey, Moby Dick's victim.



Chapter LXXII: The Monkey-Rope

Back to the practical matters of whale butchering: Ishmael returns to one aspect he overlooked before: how the hook is first attached to the blubber. This is done by lowering a member of the crew down to the floating whale by means of a "monkey rope." With this latest whale, Ishmael stood on deck tied to one end of the rope, while Queequeg was lowered on the other - a fitting bond for such close friends. Ishmael considers that their lives were so connected at that moment that they seemed to form "a joint stock company of two."



Chapter LXXIII: Stubb and Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk Over Him

The Pequod continues on her way, with the enormous whale's head hanging over one side. Soon, the ship encounters a herd of Right Whales: a less useful kind of whale than the Sperm, and thus not a kind that the Pequod is meant to hunt. Ahab, for some reason, orders the men to attack a Right Whale if they get the opportunity, and Stubb and Flask oblige. When the whale has been killed, they discover the reason: Fedallah has told Ahab that a ship that has a Sperm Whale's head on one side and a Right Whale's head on the other can never sink. Stubb and Flask discuss the shadowy Fedallah; Stubb's opinion is that the mysterious mate is the devil himself.



Chapter LXXIV: The Sperm Whale's Head - Contrasted View

Ishmael begins to contrast the two whales' heads. Both have the peculiar eyes and ears of whales: eyes on either side of the head giving two separate images to the brain, and ears so tiny as to be barely perceptible. (This last fact inspires one of Ishmael's most famous lines: "Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it.") Ishmael describes the process by which the lower jaw and teeth (all forty-two of them) are removed and polished for various uses.



Chapter LXXV: The Right Whale's Head - Contrasted View

Ishmael describes the Sperm Whale's head as resembling a "Roman war-chariot," while the humbler Right Whale's head looks more like an old shoe. He admits, however, that the Right Whale's head looks different from different perspectives. One of these perspectives is actually inside the whale's mouth cavity - where Ishmael sees the bones that are used to make ladies' corsets! Viewed from here, the Right Whale head's biggest difference from the Sperm Whale's head is clear: it has no ivory teeth. The differences in their mouth and jaw leads to different facial expressions after death; Ishmael comments that the Right Whale seems like a "Stoic," while the Sperm Whale is more of a "Platonian."

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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