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 chapter describes a scene in which Ishmael and other sailors on the Pequod are dipping their hands in tubs of whale oil to squeeze out the lumps. Although this may sound like a gross task, it is described as actually very pleasant. The oil smells sweet and feels good on the hands. This communal activity, like stomping grapes into wine, creates a kind of intimacy and affection among the men. Ishmael muses:
“I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers’ hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,—Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social ascerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come, let us squeeze hands all round; nay let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.”