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Free Study Guide-Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 80

Summary

After a brief interval, the Pequod meets a German vessel ‘Jungfrau’ (virgin) from Bremen. Even before any greetings are exchanged, the captain, Derick De Beer lowers a boat and comes on board of the Pequod. In broken English, he informs the ship that he has not seen the white whale, but he wants some sperm oil. His ship has had no luck so far in hunting whales, and they need some oil very badly. Just as the captain is rowing back to his ship with the oil, both the vessels sight a pod of eight whales. Both the vessels lower their boats to chase the whales.

In the competition to overtake each other, they are able to reach only one old and crippled whale. However, when they harpoon it, the whale sinks to the bottom and does not come up again. The crewmembers of both the ships return without success. From the Pequod, the sailors are surprised to see that the German boats are being lowered all over again. When they look ahead in the waters, they sight some finbacks. The crew members have a hearty laugh at the expense of the Germans, as they are aware that the finbacks are too fast to be chased by boats.


Notes

The meeting with the German ship again reveals the lack of communication between Pequod and other ships. Its inability to communicate may come from its innocence about the whaling industry as compared to the experience of the Pequod. When the Jungfrau received oil from the Pequod it threw it away in order to chase after the newly sighted whale. This reveals its naivete and inexperience as compared to the Pequod.

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