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Free Study Guide-Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapters 60 - 64

Summary

One hot and lazy afternoon, the crew sights a huge sperm whale swimming a short distance from the ship. The boats are lowered without a sound so that the whale does not hear them coming. As soon as the boats come near, the whale senses danger and starts moving faster. Stubb’s boat is closest to the whale. Tashtego, who has been rowing hard till then, gets on his feet, and strikes his harpoon into the whale. The boat comes nearer, and Stubb drives his lance into the whale, twisting and turning it. The water around the whale is red with the whale’s blood. The whale is in a pool of its own blood.

In the following chapter, Ishmael speaks about the harpooner’s job during a chase. The harpooner, who has been rowing hard, has to drop his oars and throw the first harpoon at the whale. Ishmael feels that the harpooner should not be given the job to row the boat, as it makes him rather tired just when all his strength is required to strike the whale. In the next chapter, which is very short, Ishmael tells the reader about the Crotch. Usually, two harpoons are kept ready to attack the whale. This is because, if one fails to do the job, the other is used to kill it. There is a notched stick, which holds both harpoons in the boat. This stick is called a crotch.

Meanwhile Ahab retires to his cabin looking very gloomy. This is because a whale has been killed, but it is not the Moby Dick. A certain part of the sperm whale is considered to be a delicacy. Stubb asks the cook to make a steak with the whale meat. At night, Stubb sits at the table complaining about the meat, which he thinks, is overcooked. Stubb then asks the cook to go on deck and reprimand the swarm of sharks, which are tearing huge chunks of flesh off the dead whale.


As soon as a whale is killed, it is tied to the sides of the ship. In the Pacific Ocean, sharks can eat up a dead whale with in six hours. But the Pequod is cruising on the Indian Ocean, where there are fewer sharks and they are less ferocious. However a swarm of sharks is moving around the dead carcass. All night, harpooners light lanterns and pierce the sharks’ heads and bodies to keep them away.

Notes

In the chapter - the Dart, the writer once again comments on the harsh working conditions of the whalers, especially the harpooners.

The fact that Stubb kills a whale and then immediately orders a part of it be cooked reveals that he is someone who is interested in the sensual pleasures of life. The incident where Fleece the cook gives a sermon to the sharks is extremely humorous. But, again the author has a message in it. In the sermon given to the sharks from the deck, the cook Fleece tells the sharks to eat the whale if they want but not to make so much noise. Fleece ends his sermon by saying that sharks will never listen to his advice, until their bellies are full. Once their bellies are full, they will not wait to hear anything and swim away. The author suggests that man is also a bit like the sharks. For very often, when he is content with his own life, he does not bother about anything or anybody else.

Further Ishmael ends the chapter by making a profound observation. That is, it is indeed unique that men eat the very animal that also provides other things that are used in his daily life. Therefore, Ishmael seems to suggests that the entire universe is inter-related. Every creature including man is dependent on other creatures for something.

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