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Free Study Guide-Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 13

Summary

The next morning, Ishmael and Queequeg hire a wheelbarrow to carry their luggage to the docks. One the way, Queequeg and Ishmael make a strange sight (together), for the local Americans. Queequeg narrates a rather amusing account of his reaction when he first saw a wheelbarrow. Both the friends board a ship ‘Moss’ sailing from New Bedford to Nantucket.

On the ship, some passengers poke fun at Queequeg. Though Queequeg ignores them, one of them, ‘a green horn’ as Ishmael nicknames him continues to pass remarks at Queequeg. Queequeg lifts the man, hoists him up in the air and throws him down on the deck to teach him a lesson. The Captain comes running to the scene and threatens Queequeg. During the argument that follows, a gale causes a huge sail boom to get loose, making it swing to and fro on the deck. As the loose sail swings back and forth on the deck, it sweeps the ‘green horn' into the sea.


While the rest of the crewmembers are unable to bring the situation under control, Queequeg swiftly moves and fastens the loose sail booms, before leaping in the water to rescue the ‘green horn’. A rowboat is lowered to get them both of aboard. After this incident, Queequeg is left alone by the other passengers, while the crewmembers look at him with respect.

Notes

This chapter again reveals the contrasts between the Christian and non-Christian world and how the different values that each culture has are often presented as one being superior over the other but in actually the Christian world is called into question. It does this through revealing the nobler qualities of the Queequeg. His presence of mind and bravery in saving the vessel as well as a fellow passenger is admirable. But what is indeed commendable is his attitude towards the entire incident. After rescuing the man, he quietly washes off salt from his body, puts on dry clothes and stands smoking as though nothing unusual has occurred. This extraordinary bravery and humility in the 'savage' the reader wonder: if it is Queequeg who is ‘uncivilized’ or the so-called civilized people of the Christian faith who jeer at Queequeg’s physical appearance and odd ways.

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