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.
After breakfast, Ishmael takes a stroll around New Bedford, to see the sights. It is, indeed, a fascinating town. Because it is a prominent sea-port, there are strange characters from all over the world. It sort of reminds me of the Mos Eisley space station from Star Wars—weird and shady characters from distant places gather there.
Another peculiar feature of New Bedford are its opulent mansions. Before the discovery and use of crude oil (from the ground), the main heating fuel in America was whale oil. Greed for this oil is what prompted New England ships to scour the world’s oceans for whales, almost driving some to extinction. One could actually argue that this discovery of crude oil “saved the whales,” though it created its own set of problems.
Because New Bedford was a whaling port, a lot of wealth flowed through it, and into the coffers of the owners of ships and whaling companies. Ishmael is startled by the great wealth of these local whale-oil barons.