Moby Dick, or, The Whale

Chapter 2. The Carpet-Bag.

Yet Dives himself, he too lives like a Czar in an ice palace made of frozen sighs, and being a president of a temperance society, he only drinks the tepid tears of orphans. ~ Herman Melville, Moby Dick

And so we graduate from Ishmael’s musings on the magnetism of water, to his first steps on his grand journey. I was happy to see a bit more of Ishmael’s personality this chapter. Last chapter, I discovered that he very likely suffers from depression. This chapter, I actually chortled a couple of times. Ishmael has a quirky sense of humour. Check this out:

‘“In judging of that tempestuous wind called Euroclydon,” says an old writer – of whose works I possess the only copy extant -’

Am I the only one who finds this funny? Old Ishmael wants to quote someone, can’t think of anyone, and so says, ‘I’m the only person who owns a copy of this writer’s work.’ How convenient.

Then there’s this little gem at the end of the chapter:

‘But no more of this blubbering now, we are going a-whaling, and there is plenty of that yet to come.’

Ishmael is a bit self-aware as a narrator. At least at this early stage of the story. Much like the affinity I have with the earlier thoughts about water, I’m remembering that there are a few of these little self-deprecating moments that endear Ishmael to me (or is it, ‘endear me to Ishmael?’ Help! I can’t grammar today).

On the flip side, I’m also beginning to see the dense Biblical and Classical references that I think put off modern readers. And me upon earlier attempts. And we’re only in chapter two! Much like the sentence I started this post with, there are passages about Biblical, mythological and historical figures that can be poetic but often verge on the purple.

But I’m not put off this time! So far writing out my thoughts each chapter, and sharing them, seems to be helping me actually look forward to picking up Moby Dick.

Thanks for reading today 🙂 drop by tomorrow, when I’ll be changing pace and posting the 100 Truths Tag that Bree so kindly tagged me in.



New Bedford – City in Massachusetts

‘Tyre of this Carthage’ – Tyre was a port city in North Africa, and Carthage rose from its ruins. Source.

Bowsprit – the long pole, or ‘spar’, that points out the front of the ship.

Grapnels – a small grappling hook, though in this context, a metaphor for searching his pocket.

Pea coffee – a drink made from boiling peas in water (I freaked out about the idea of this more that I should have).

Euroclydon – A northeastern cyclonic wind caused by pressure systems in the Mediterranean. It also interfered with the apostle Paul’s ship.

Dives – The ‘Rich Man’ from the parable of ‘The Rich Man and Lazarus’.

Moluccas – The Maluku Islands, or Spice Islands, in Indonesia (looks seriously beautiful, I want to go to there).

1 thought on “Chapter 2. The Carpet-Bag.”

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