Thursday, April 7, 2016

Moby Dick Ch. 84: Pitchpoling

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.

As Queequeg was greasing the bottom of his harpoon boat, another whale was spotted, and the crew gave chase.  After harpooning the whale, the creature still swam furiously, and so Stubb brought out another weapon in his whale-slaying arsenal--a lighter wooden lance that could be thrown repeatedly at the whale, then retracted.  After spearing the whale numerous times with this lance (an action called “pitchpoling”), the poor creature bled out, and died.  Stubb was quite pleased with himself, making gross references to drinking the whale’s blood like wine.  What’s interesting about Moby Dick is how sailors like Stubb can appear both heroic and monstrous at the same time.  I think Melville was suggesting that the line separating heroes and villains is often blurrier than we’d like to admit.

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