I love the opening to this chapter. The descriptions of the entrance and main area of The Spouter-Inn conjure up such a vivid picture of a dank, murky tavern with whaling paraphernalia used for decoration. Almost like something out of a more modern high fantasy novel. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where some authors got their inspiration.
We also meet ‘Jonah’, or ‘Landlord,’ the owner of the establishment. His interaction with Ishmael introduces us to another layer of our protagonists character: he’s very easily wound up. And he tends to over think things. This is shown in no better way than when Ishmael has to get used to the idea of sleeping in the same bed as another man.
Which brings me to Queequeg. I’m so conflicted reading this introduction to Queequeg. For the time, Melville is quite respectful of this dark-skinned character of fictional south-pacific origin. By the end of the chapter, Ishmael calms down and rationalises that the way someone looks, and their religious persuasion has no bearing on the quality of of their character.
But on the other hand, what kind of skin-tone in ‘purplish yellow’? And that atrocious accent that Melville gives Queequeg as a non-native English speaker. Please correct me if you know of a language that gives a speaker Queequeg’s accent.
In the scheme of things, it could be worse, but it will take some getting used to the old-fashioned descriptions of non-white people.
On another note, I was happy to read a longer chapter this time. The first two chapters are so short, so it was nice to be able to get into the rhythm of Melville’s prose.
I feel like my writing is a bit disjointed today, so I’m going to leave it at that.
Thanks for reading!
Hyperborean – relating to the extreme north
Skrimshander – carved whale ivory
Monkey jacket – a waist-length jacket that tapers to a point at the back
Box coat – according to thefreedictionary.com, an unfitted coat that hangs from the shoulders, short, or heavy overcoat
Watch coat – warm overcoat worn by sailors on watch in colder weather
Coffer-dam – watertight area below water level that is pumped dry so repair work can be done
Grego/wrapall – a coarse, warm coat with a hood