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In this chapter, Ishmael goes out for a stroll after breakfast. During his stroll around the town, the reader is given a glimpse of the port city of New Bedford in 19th century America.
Ishmael informs the readers that it is a common sight in New Bedford to see many foreigners walking about the town in their strange costumes and chatting on the streets. There are also many young Americans who come from Vermont or New Hampshire to try their luck at sea. The town of New Bedford is one of the most beautiful towns in all America - ‘with patrician like houses, parks and gardens...' The reason behind this opulence is due to the whaling industry which is so profitable. Since almost everyone in New Bedford is connected to this industry, it is said that "fathers give whales for dowers (dowry) to their daughters..."
While walking around, Ishmael realizes that Queequeg is not as odd-looking as he first thought. Seeing all these people coming to New Bedford to make their fortune in the whaling industry opens Ishmael’s eyes to the various types of human beings in the world. Ishmael is gaining a greater perspective of the world around him that is not homogeneous but diverse. This more accepting view of the varieties of humankind will be Ishmael’s saving grace and will lead to his being saved at the end of the novel.
In this chapter, the author city reveals his knowledge of the whaling industry and the chief centers of the whaling industry in the 1800s. It is quite possible that the author Herman Melville must have visited New Bedford during one of his voyages.