Reading Section 1
"Etymology and Extracts"
Herman Melville offers an academic analysis of the word, whale
and shows that the word has
different levels of meaning and connotation. In Extracts
he lists an eclectic collection of historical and
contemporary quotations about whales. The listing quickly shows the importance of whales.
Literary purists insist that a reader begin the reading of Moby Dick
by reading Melville's prefaces, Etymology
We suggest that you read them if you wish, but do not feel required to read the prefaces
. Neither are crucial to the story.
Begin reading the novel at Chapter 1 and read through to the last chapter. Then, come back and read the two prefaces
if you are curious about them.
Chapters 1 - 21
Ishmael, our story-teller, arrives in New Bedford. Note his reasons for wanting to ship out and his basic morality,
his personal world view (his philosophy of life) at this time.
- What does he have to say about the differences between landsmen and
seamen? And which are you? A landsman or a seaman?
- What is his attitude toward religion and spirituality? Is there a
distinction to him?
- What conclusion(s) has he drawn about the ideal of the Noble Savage and
Christianity? What prompted him to even consider the two types?
- Does he seem to believe in Free Will, Fate, or a combination of the two,
such as Machiavelli supports in the closing chapter of The Prince?
- By the end of Section 1, Chapter 21, does he seem to take a particular
or is it too early to determine?
- In the chapters entitled, The Pulpit and The Sermon. What is the
- If you are not familiar with the Biblical story, Jonah and the Whale, please
read about it here.
Section 1 Vocabulary: Best viewed at full web site (readmoby.com) on tablet, laptop, or desktop.