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Free Study Guide-Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapters 66 - 69

Summary

In these chapters, the whole process of skinning, peeling and cutting the fatty substance - the blubber (to be used to make sperm oil) is explained in detail. The skin of the whale is called the blanket. Below the blanket is the 12-15 inches of blubber, which keeps the whale warm. Once the peeling and cutting is done, the dead carcass of the whale is thrown into the sea. Before it is thrown, the whale is beheaded. It requires great skill to cut the huge head. The head of the whale is tied on the ship’s side above the water. The captain goes near the head and addresses it. He asks the whale’s head what secrets it has seen as it has swum to the depths of the ocean.


Notes

Here, the reader gets a glimpse of the hard works that goes into cutting and peeling the whale. For instance before the whale is brought on the deck for the blubber, its head has to be cut which a harpooner does by climbing on to the slippery back. This is done, while the dead whale is tied (vertical) against the sides of the ship. The harpooner’s job is both difficult and dangerous.

The chapter where Ahab addresses the whale has a poetic form. Ahab wants the whale to reveal its knowledge similar to those who asked the Sphynx for the knowledge it knew. He wants to know why evil affects those who are innocent.

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