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Free Study Guide-Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 24

Summary

While narrating his story, Ishmael digresses in this chapter to tell the reader about the low opinion that people on the land have of the whaling profession and whalers in general. Then, he goes on to refute all the misconceptions commonly held by the people. Through arguments backed by historical and contemporary facts, he states that whaling is an honorable profession and that much of the discoveries done in the world have been done by whaling vessels. He also gives examples from the Bible and historical records to prove that there is great dignity in whaling.


He concludes by saying, "a whale-ship was my Yale College, my Harvard". In other words, the narrator equates the practical experience and knowledge acquired on a whaling voyage to the degrees of the best universities in the country.

Notes

Like the title of the chapter, The Advocate, Ishmael refutes each idea/opinion held by the public and places his argument for the whaling profession and whalers like a lawyer.

Through his arguments that are backed with facts, he wants the reader to understand the importance of the whaling industry along with the dignity and significance of the whale. Though whalers were involved in hunting down whales, they also had a sense of respect for the animal. He also is seeking validation for his subject matter. It was not every day that a writer chose a subject matter such as whales for his literary pursuits, and here Ishmael is providing a good justification for the actual conception of the novel Moby Dick.

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