Thursday, February 25, 2016

Moby Dick Ch. 61: Stubb Kills a Whale

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.

In this chapter, the Pequod encounters its first sperm whale, and gives chase!  Harpoon boats are lowered and it is Stubb’s boat that ultimately captures and kills the whale.  It’s a action-packed and bloody scene.  Though the crew of the Pequod is elated at their first kill, Ishmael describes the death of the whale with a hint of sadness:

“And now abating in his flurry, the whale once more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilating and contracting his spout-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonized respirations.  At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air, and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea.  His heart had burst!”


After the kill, Stubb empties the ashes of his pipe into the sea “and, for a moment, stood thoughtfully eyeing the vast corpse he had made.”


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