Or, three chapters that have nothing at all to do with one another. And don’t transition well. In “Queen Mab,” Stubb recalls a dream where he gets kicked in the tuckus by Captain Ahab, and then a merman (yes, a merman) shows up to tell him that being kicked by Ahab is an honor, because Ahab is a “great man.” K. Next chapter, “Cetology,” is an utterly maddening Melvillian “classification” chapter which attempts to explain the many varieties of whales - except that he leaves out a bunch of species and he ranks whales according to their value in terms human exploitation (sperm whales being the greatest due to their spermaceti, yo). Speaking of classifications, we also learn in “The Specksynder” chapter that the original whalers, the Dutch, had a practical custom where the harpooners on a whale ship also acted as captains; however, since theNantucket whalers are exploiting non-white non-Christian harpooners, a white guy is in charge of everything.
It only took 120 pages, but we finally catch a glimpse of Captain Ahab. We’ve been told that he has a peg leg, but it’s really a whale-bone peg leg (arhhhh!). Ahab also possesses one hell of a scar, origins seemingly unknown, “right down one side of his tawny scorched face and neck.” Once Ahab starts making appearances on the deck, he does so late at night, and he PACES with that whale-bone peg leg, which in turn causes mate Stubb to hint to him that maybe pacing the decks of the ship with a peg leg while people are sleeping is a bit inconsiderate, to which Ahab yells out “AVAST!” (which means STOP – did you know that? I had to look it up). Anyhoo, Stubb gets aggravated that Ahab would be both inconsiderate AND kind of an asshole to boot, and sort of picks a fight, but then skulks away. In Chapter 30, called THE PIPE, Ahab gives up smoking. So, to recap: we have a crabby, peg-legged insomniac in charge of a three-year voyage who gives up smoking before we even hit Florida. Sweet!
|—||Herman Melville, MOBY DICK|
One last thing about how great whaling is! British coronations are conducted with whale oil! [Does Kate Middleton know this? Does QEII smell like a sperm whale?] Next up: the chief three mates on the Pequod. The first mate is Starbuck[s] – possibly lacking in the balls department - or so his introduction hints with a literary sledgehammer. Second mate is Stubb – some balls; just a little careless and a total chain smoker. Third be Flask, who possesses an “ignorant, unconscious fearlessness” - which doesn’t sound too promising, either. Now, each of these white guys gets a non-white harpooner from a different part of the world: Queequeg (South Pacific), Tashtego (North America), and Daggoo (Africa).
Or, “Merry Christmas, Bulkington! Can I interest you in a brief history of whaling?” So the Pequod pulls out to sea on Christmas day, piloted - or more like helicoptered - by clingy Captains Bildad and Peleg, who leave a WIFE SWAP-styled To-Do list before finally returning to shore. Briefly, we are reintroduced to a fellow named Bulkington (who previously appeared at the lodging in New Bedford), ostensibly for no other purpose than to kill him off prior to a history/defense of why whaling ROCKS (according to Ishmael).
|—||Herman Melville, MOBY DICK|
When Ishmael and Queequeg leave the ship after their meeting, they are stopped by a bit of a loon named Elijah, who seems to know something salacious about Captain Ahab’s past. The problem is that he is so weird about revealing this information that Q and I grow frustrated with him and move along (really; what the hell is a “silver calabash” anyway?) Over the next days, the ship gets loaded and the boys wait to set sail. Upon returning to the Pequod to ship out, they again meet Elijah and he again babbles at them. While the crew files on board, Queequeg plops himself down on a sleeping rigger and smokes his pipe, explaining that where he comes from, the royal family members frequently sit on subordinates.