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Chapters 92 - 93
In the chapter ‘castaway’, Ishmael informs the reader that not everyone leaves the ship for a chase. While most of the crewmembers are on the boats, some of them stay on a board. They are called ship-keepers. It so happens that one of Stubb’s oarsmen hurt his hand and in his place, the young Negro boy Pip goes on his boat. However, while chasing a whale, the boy is flung overboard by a jolt. He is saved from drowning as he gets entangled in the line. To save him, the line is cut. In doing so, the whale escapes. Irritated, Stubb curses him and tells him to stay put in the boat.
However, once again, Pip falls into the ocean during a chase. This time though he does not get entangled in the line and as the whale speeds up, the boat with its harpoon struck in the whale is forced to race behind it, leaving Pip struggling in the water. Fortunately, the sea is calm. However, the loneliness in the vast expanse of the sea is intolerable and so quiet that it leaves an indelible impression on Pip. From then onwards, Pip appears to be an idiot.
In the next chapter, Ishmael informs the reader as to what happens once the whales have been cut and skinned aboard. He says that after the sperm oil is collected in huge tubs, the seamen must sit around them. This is because the sperm begins to crystallize as it cools, leading to formation of lumps. The sailor must squeeze these lumps back into liquid and keep at it for some time.
In these two chapters, a contrasting view of loneliness and camaraderie on the ship is depicted. The terror of being abandoned in the sea affects Pip mentally, as the sea is so immense that to be in it is to confront the terrors of the unknown alone. Meanwhile, on the ship, the whole act of working together builds a bond between the sailors. The author uses these two examples to say that man cannot live in complete isolation. That complete isolation can harm man just as it harms Pip in the story. Human beings constantly need the warmth of friendship and comradeship. The author stresses the need for communication even if it means through physical contact - like the squeeze of a hand. Here an allusion to Ahab is made as he stoically braves his fears of the unknown--Moby Dick--alone and yet by doing so, he brings destruction not only on himself but the men who serve him.