Moby Dick Read-A-Long Chapters 61-75: Turning Point

Moby Dick Read-A-Long

This section made me uneasy. It was disjointed. They finally kill a whale, but it’s over so quickly… for a narrator that spends pages upon pages talking about the minutia of whale anatomy, it’s very brief. There’s a lot of disorder and upsetting of the natural state of things. Stubbs eats (part of) a whale, which is unusual. The Pequod meets a ship that is in the thrall of a prophet and on the verge of mutiny.

Having read ahead a bit, I now see these chapters as a turning point. Things get real dark after this. I’m reaching a bit of a turning point too, in that I just want to read, read, read and not stop to think or write. But I must, read-a-longers!

Share your thoughts in the comments, or better yet, link to your own post.

Lost at sea? For all the details on this read-a-long, including schedule and sign up, click here.

Chapters 61-75

  • Everything is IlluminatedI walk The Line: The first chapter of this section is The Line. Like most of the titles, it is very literal. This chapter is about the line that connects the harpoons to the boat. But somehow, while being so literal and documentary-like, Melville brings some heavy symbolism. The line imagery reminded me of the string that connects all the houses and shops in Trachimbrod in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated and I’m sure both Foer and Melville were giving a shout out to The Fates of Greek mythology who spin, weave, and cut the threads of life (I totally just had a Grade 12 IB English flashback.)

All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life.

  • Fellow Critters: In a chapter that (I think) is supposed to serve as comic relief, I was cringing at the overt racism and cruelty Stubbs shows in his treatment of Fleece, an elderly, arthritic, black cook. Fleece’s sermon to the sharks, his “fellow critters,” is funny, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was supposed to be laughing at him, not with him.
  • The Jeroboam: I liked the meeting with The Jeroboam and its crazy (?) prophet Gabriel who warns Ahab about The White Whale, but I’m not sure what we’re supposed to take away from it. To me, Ahab and Gabriel are both nuts.
  • Blubber: The detailed description of cutting away the blubber didn’t bother me. I was prepared to be grossed out, but it didn’t do much for me at all. Next!

Tune in Next Week: Feminism for whales.

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What did you think of this section? Link to your blog post below and drop me a line in the comments.



  1. Pingback: Moby Dick Read-A-Long: Sign Up! | Reading in Bed
  2. Heather

    Yes. So.

    We’ve already discussed what interested me most in this section…which turned out to be a huge misunderstanding, with pun totally intended. Whale balls. Leave it to Melville to lead me into Googling whales’ testicles…with an image search. I don’t recommend it.

    I was going to read ahead, but forced myself to stop at this section. It has been nice not to just plow ahead without considering what I’ve read so far. I kind of like having a small section to mull over for a week.

    • lauratfrey

      I totally wasn’t feeling it this week – the posting, not the reading. Maybe it’s just because this chunk didn’t really have an overarching theme to write about. It was a bit of this, and a bit of that. I couldn’t find any good quotes to pull out. I think the next section will be easier to write about – let’s hope!

  3. Caitlin

    This section was not my favourite. Even though it had some exciting moment potential, I found it was better sleep medication than anything… Though I feel like we are being set up for something good. Something exciting is bound to happen, right?

    One great thing about this book is that I feel like by the end I will be an expert on whales. Anatomy, hunting and the whale business in general. That could come in handy some day maybe… like if I go whale watching this summer?

    Good post, even though you weren’t feeling it, you provide a good recap. I notice when I read your posts, I am forgetting parts of what I just read. This read-a-long is coming in handy for me!

    PS – Tony is behind, but will be catching up on the plane ride here.

    • lauratfrey

      Thanks. I am more excited to write about the next section, though I don’t know if I’ll have time, since we are going camping!

      I could probably finish the book while we’re out there. I’m 80% done and I’m holding myself back a bit. I won’t remember what I read by the time I write about it if I go too fast.

      I’m thinking about what I want to read next… something COMPLETELY different, I’d say 🙂

  4. Pingback: Reading Roundup: June 2013 | Reading in Bed
  5. jaynesbooks

    It felt kinda weird in that Melville spent a good portion talking about sperm whales and their anatomy that this section would seem out of place. Also I didn’t read it in one sitting, so that didn’t help either…

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