Tagged: Everything is Illuminated

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!

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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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