Sunday, April 17, 2016

Moby Dick Ch. 91: The Pequod Meets the Rose-Bud

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 the Pequod sailed on, they encountered a French whaling ship called the Rose-Bud, which had “captured” two dead whales.  Their rotting corpses smelled terrible.  It was a bit ironic that a ship called the Rose-Bud should carry such a pungent cargo.  The oil extracted from dead/rotting whales was of a very low quality.  And yet, there was one valuable thing that could be obtained from such whales—a substance called ambergris, which was (ironically) used in making perfumes.

Stubb hatched a plan to get the captain of the Rose-Bud to abandon his whales, so he could get the valuable ambergris.  He sailed over and boarded the Rose-Bud.  Speaking through a translator, he convinced the French captain to let go of these whales.  It’s a funny scene in which Stubb says really insulting things to the captain like “Tell him that…he’s no more fit to command a whale-ship than a St. Jago monkey…tell him from me he’s a baboon.”  The translator translates this as, “He vows and declares, Monsieur, that the other whale, the dried one, is far more deadly than the blasted one…Monsieur, he conjures us as we value our lives, to cut loose from these fish.”

In fact, Stubb and the translator were working together for mutual benefit.  When the captain agreed to let the whales go, Stubb got the valuable ambergris, and the interpreter was free from the horrible stench of rancid whale.  It was a “win-win.”


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