Reading Section 3

Reading Section 3

Chapters 43 - 65

When you finish Section 3, you are half way through your journey. Are you a survivor, or will you jump ship? Chop wood. Carry water. Just keep reading.
  1. Pause here to think about Melville's style. He uses a variety of stylistic and structural techniques.
    • Do you notice a similarity between some chapters of Moby and Shakespeare's style?

  2. Continue keeping notes, especially, on Ahab and Starbuck. Stubb's character/personality is also more fully shown in this section.

  3. Chapter 46, Surmises, gives deeper insight into Ahab's character and into his thinking processes. Note his acknowledgement that he has, indeed, overstepped the boundaries of even a captain.
    • What does he know the crew can legally do about the hunt for Moby if he does not take care to prevent it?
    • What does he intend to do?

  4. Recall that Starbuck was the only crew member to object to Ahab's hunt for Moby. Be aware that Starbuck, as first mate, has the legal right and responsibility to take command of the ship if the captain becomes incapacitated (physically or mentally) or derelict in his duties and threatens the safety of the crew and ship or the commercial purpose of the voyage.
    • In this section does Starbuck make any plans to prevent Ahab from hunting the one whale?

  5. Describe the mysterious voices and the dusky phantoms (Chapters 46 and 50) that are seen around Ahab.
    • Who are they?
    • What seems to be their purpose on the ship?
    • What do the others think about these special crew members?

  6. Remember Ishmael is a Romantic, a dreamer, a symbolist. He is not a landsman, who concentrates only on the "real." Reality for a Romantic is but a mask or symbol of what lies beyond. Reality is paradoxical.
    • Take note of Ishmael's observation of concrete objects or sightings and his elevation of them. He has become increasingly transcendental, seeing reality only as a mask of true meaning
    • For instance, Chapter 51, The Spririt-Spout, describes in literal details an apparition that is associated with Moby Dick, but at the end, Ishmael "elevates" the image to mean something greater than it actually appears.
    • The chapters, Brit and Squid will also first describe concrete images then elevate them to symbolic, perhaps spiritual, applications.
    • Almost every chapter will now become elevated. In what other chapters do you see this happening?

  7. During this section, you will have the first gam with the Town-Ho whaling ship. The Town-Ho's story seems off topic, but it may be somewhat foreshadowing. Do not get involved with trying to understand why the Town-Ho story is being told. Come back to it when you finish the novel.
    Read it and move on. Keep moving. Chop Wood. Carry Water.

  8. Know what a gam is and take note of how the other ships compare or contrast with the Pequod. As you have other gams later, Ahab's personality will change.

Section 3 Vocabulary and Allusions List: Best viewed at full web site ( on tablet, laptop, or desktop.