Reading Section 5

Reading Section 5

Chapters 87 - Epilogue

Read straight through to the end. Melville has introduced his conflicts and themes. Ishmael has become transcendental in his descriptions.

Continue to note how the literal is a springboard to the abstract or elevated. Reality is a mask for the illusion.
  1. Chapters 87 - 109
    Almost every chapter is elevated. The chapters that impress me are 88 and 89. With which ones do you especially relate? In other chapters we gain further insight into the characters and personalities of both Ahab and Starbuck. In this section Little Pip crosses the line into irrationality, and Ahab becomes his protector.
      Why is that?

  2. Chapters 110 - 130
    Events become darkly ominous. Queequeg lies in his coffin.
    • Note the imagery in 112, The Blacksmith, and 113, The Forge
    • The Pequod Meets the Rachel, 128, is a final reflection on Ahab's monomania.
      Rachel is a Biblical allusion. Check the meaning on the Allusion List (full web site,

  3. Chapters 131 - Epilogue
    Do you think the ending fanciful, totally not really possible? Actually, the possibility and reality of it happening in this way is told in tales of whalers and in their folk songs.

    • Listen to a folk song based on a true story written in the 1840s by a sailor named Scammon. Tommy Makem sings (Go to full web site,, for audio.)

    • The story of the sinking of the whale ship, Essex, as recorded by First Mate Owen Chase in 1821 is a gripping tale read by many, including a young Herman Melville.
      You can order a reprint of the original text by Owen Chase entitled, The Wreck of the Whaleship 'Essex', on

Section 5 Vocabulary, Allusions List, and Makem recording: Best viewed with tablet, laptop, or desktop on full web site,