Sunday, May 24, 2015

Moby Dick Ch. 4: The Counterpane

The following is from a work-in-progress called "Moby Dick: a Book Report" in which I read each chapter of Herman Melville's classic novel Moby Dick, and write about what I read.  This will (hopefully) culminate in a large book report on the whole book.  I will also include illustrations I find on the internet or in books.

Ishmael awakes beside Queequeg, whose arm is affectionately thrown over him: “Upon waking next morning about daylight, I found Queequeg’s arm thrown over me in the most loving and affectionate manner.  You had almost thought I had been his wife.”  This funny image contrasts with Ishmael’s fear of the “savage” the night before.  Contrary to social mores, the Christian and the pagan have become friends and bedfellows.

However, Queequeg’s arm over Ishmael presents a challenge—how can he get up without waking him?  The scenario reminds him of a childhood experience.  Once, when he was “grounded” to his room, he lay in bed and suddenly felt some strange supernatural hand in his—an experience he found terrifying.  This experience of the divine was like what Old Testament prophets experienced.

Finally, Ishmael succeeds in waking the “savage,” who proceeds to get dressed and ready for the day.  Humorously, Queequeg uses his harpoon blade to shave his face.


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