Moby-Dick, Chapters 10-16

Chapters read: x. A Bosom Friend, xi. Nightgown, xii. Biographical, xiii. Wheelbarrow, xiv. Nantucket, xv. Chowder, xvi. The Ship

Page reached: 79 of 522 (15.13%)

Status Report: “Let’s go grab some lunch,” you propose to a co-worker.

“Yeah, that sounds good,” she replies. “Where do you want to go?”

“Oh, anywhere is fine. What do you feel like?”

“I don’t care, I like everything.” She ducks her head into another person’s cubicle. “Hey, Carolyn, we’re going to lunch. Do you wanna come?”

Fast-forward seventy minutes. You’re standing in the reception area of your office, and your “lunch party” now contains enough of your colleagues to form two rugby teams. You’re not even sure who you are waiting for, though you occasionally see people wander off toward the restrooms, or back to their PCs to check their email “one last time” before you depart. You still haven’t settled on a destination. Your stomach has begun digesting its own lining out of desperation.

This is how Moby-Dick is making me feel.

At least we’ve gotten to the ship. But it has yet to sail. And as Chapter 21 is entitled “Going Aboard,” I’m guessing it’s going to remain moored for another score of pages at the minimum.

Much of the last seven chapters was devoted to the burgeoning friendship between Ishmael and Queequeg. Having shared a bed the night they met, the two are now shacking up at every opportunity, though — and I cannot stress this enough — in a completely non-homoerotic way. I say that for the benefit of any school superintendents reading this, who would ban this book from their library in a heartbeat if they knew that, so far, the novel has been much more Brokeback than Humpback.

Favorite Passage: First sentence for chapter fourteen: “Nothing more happened on the passage worthy the mentioning; so, after a fine run, we safely arrived in Nantucket.” Actually laughed out loud when I read that. Either Meleville got writer’s cramp that morning or seven chapters were excised between 13 and 14, as lack of notice-worthy events did not deter him from writing the first 80 pages.

Words looked up::

  • Punctilious: Strictly attentive to minute details of form in action or conduct.
  • Trump (“All hands voted Queequeg a noble trump”): A reliable or admirable person.
  • Quahog: An edible clam (Venus mercenaria) of the Atlantic coast of North America.
  • Galliot: A light, single-masted, flatbottom Dutch merchant ship.
  • Celerity: Swiftness of action or motion; speed.
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19 comments.

  1. See, if you had lived in New England any time at all, you wouldn’t have had to look up Quahog. You could have just gone down to the local bar and had a stuffed one while the rest of your office party got itself organized for lunch.

  2. Quahog, Rhode Island is, of course, the setting of Family Guy.

  3. This has nothing to do with Moby Dick, but, as an fyi, the story about that juror who had to write a paper and copied your story was in this month’s ABA Journal. Your name isn’t mentioned, you’re just “a man in Seattle” but it’s there.

  4. funny, Humpback sounds much dirtier than Brokeback….

  5. Ah, I wish I could have sat next to you in high school English class. Might not have napped so much.

  6. You are utterly hilarious. I’m loving these MD entries.

  7. What I would like explained about the word “Quahog” is the pronunciation.

    Also, how many people DOES it take to make up a “ruby” team?

    Sorry. Really.

  8. Quahog is generally pronounced “COE-hawg,” but there’s a small subset of Rhode Islanders that do pronounce it “KWA-hog.”

  9. melville, as it happens, was more than likely gay.

    just sayin.

    I wish i could remember more from when i read this book for class last year….i could leave pithy, brilliant remarks for your edification.

    alas: i just dragged through the book waiting for the pain of reading to subside….

  10. I took a couple of summer courses at William and Mary one year; at one point I found myself in the position of having to read both Moby Dick and The Sound and the Fury at the same time. I quickly discovered that Moby Dick made a nice palette-cleansing light read after immersing myself in Sound and the Fury for any length of time.

    It’s all a matter of perspective…

  11. If you think it’s taking ages to get to the ship, just wait til you see how long it’ll take for the damnable whale to show his snowhill of a hump.

  12. i’ve always said

    qwa’hawg, almost one syllable. that’d be the maryland-eese way to say it anyway.

  13. No one from Seattle (Geoduck, pronounced “GOO ee duck”) would ever complain about Quahog.

  14. COE-hog. Definitely COE-hog. Unless you want to avoid the whole question and call it a “stuffie.”

  15. My favorite Moby Dick story.
    When my daughter was 10 y.o., she was assigned to create a diorama for her english class. She, of course, neglected to let me know and the night before the project was due she reminds me of it as she needed a shoe box. Guess what book she chose out of all the books available?! Of, course, Moby Dick! My favorite part of the diorama (for which I received an A -because it was my grade not hers!)was the part where you have to tell about the book in 25 words or less.
    But I did it! The scene for the diorama was a Lego guy on the bridge of the ship tossing a spear (a toothpick colored red at the tip) into Moby Dick (Flounder from Little Mermaid).

    On a similar vein, I have been tackling, plodding through Norman Mailer’s “Executioner’s SOng” for 5 years now. I read two pages at a time and then place it back on my bedstand. It’s like a brick everytime I look at it. But I will finish it eventually.

  16. Mmmmmm. Chowder.

  17. Give it up and just read “Ahab’s Wife” by Sena Jeter Naslund.

  18. I’ve gone this far in my life without reading Moby Dick…I couldn’t even make it through the movie….you are doing NOTHING to make me want to read it before I breathe my last breath. And for the record…not only do I know what celerity means, I’ve used it once or twice in my life.

  19. You might have laughed out loud at that sentence, but I definitely laughed out loud at yours.