Reading Section 2
Chapters 22 - 42
In Section 2, you are out of sight of land and in the open sea. Here, you will be
tested. Can you endure? Can you continue a journey that seems not to have a destination?
Can you live with questions and no answers? Can you live with no questions? Can you
endure the Now?
- Note the narrator's purpose of Chapter 24: Whaling is an important undertaking,
of great significance but little general recognition. Notice his obvious passion
for the subject.
- The next few chapters in this section review the command levels on board the ship.
The descriptions are interesting, but the levels are probably not new for you.
- Make a six column chart for the characters: Ahab, Starbuck, Stubb, Flask,
Queequeq, Ishmael.Leave room to add additional notes later.
For each make note of personal characteristics/attitudes, including the predominant Philosophical
Stance of each.
If you anticipate writing a paper, note the chapter numbers where the
characteristics are seen. You may prefer using another technique, such as webbing.
- During this section, get a firm grasp on Ahab's personality and character. "The Pipe,"
Chapter XXX (30), is important for revealing the internal conflict(s) he is experiencing.
Other chapters in this section also are important for the development of Ahab. His
leadership skills are shown in The QuarterDeck.
Add to your character chart above.
- The second person to take careful notes on is Starbuck, the first mate.
Stubb and Flask are, perhaps, one-dimensional, but they represent
different philosophical stances in their attitude toward their work, life in general,
and fate.Add to your character chart.
- Melville's characters are representational at the least, and perhaps symbolic,
so spend time and notes determining what belief system they represent. Are they
foils of one another? Are the Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask all foils of Ahab?
- Chapter 32, "Cetology," is a highly detailed discourse on the various types of
whales. Some informal studies show that eight of ten readers who begin reading
Moby Dick give up in the middle of this chapter.
DO NOT ASSUME THAT YOU MUST "UNDERSTAND" this chapter. You can return to it later if you wish.
JUST SKIM IT. Push through.
- The discussion of Moby as myth and as fact establishes a major theme--the
paradoxical realness of reality. After you have finished the novel, you will
be asked to talk about the theme of paradox.
- Chapter 42,The Whiteness of the Whale, is all about paradox--not just the
paradox of Moby Dick, but the paradox of all aspects of Life. What other
paradoxical aspects of your life can you think of? List them.
- If you have not already done so, refer to the Allusion List for possible name symbolism.
As a writer in the 18th century American Romantic tradition, Melville chooses most
of his names for a purpose.
Section 2 Vocabulary and Allusion List: Best viewed at full web site (readmoby.com) on tablet, laptop, or desktop.