How to Read Moby Dick
a guide for first-time readers
Reading Section 3
43 - 65 Section 3 Vocabulary
When you finish section 3, you are half way through your
journey. Are you a survivor, or will you jump ship? Chop wood. Carry
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?
- Continue keeping notes on, especially, Ahab and
Starbuck. Stubb's character/personality is also more fully shown in
- 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?
- Recall that Starbuck was the only crew member to
object to Ahab's hunt for Moby. In this section does Starbuck make
any plans to prevent the hunt for the one whale? Be aware also, 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.
- Describe the mysterious voices and the dusky
phantoms (ch. 46) that are seen around Ahab. Who are they?
What seems to be their purpose on the ship? See also Ch. 50.
- Take note of Ishmael's observation of concrete
objects or sightings and his elevation of them. For instance,
Ch. 51, The Spririt-Spout, describes an apparition that is
associated with Moby Dick. Brit and Squid
will also describe concrete images with elevated (symbolic, perhaps)
applications. 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.
- During this section, you will have the first gam.
The Town-Ho's story may be somewhat foreshadowing, but do not get
too involved with it. Read it and move on. Keep moving.
Chop Wood. Carry Water. 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 begin to change.
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