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Chapter Twenty-Three: The Lee Shore is barely a page long and devotes itself to discussing Bulkington.

Don't remember him? He first appeared way back in Chapter Three, but I neglected to mention him because 1) I was distracted by the impending approach of Queequeg and 2) I honestly didn't think he would come up again.

From Chapter Three, a brief refresher on Bulkington:

pg. 15-16: I observed, however, that one of them held somewhat aloof, and though he seemed desirous not to spoil the hilarity of his shipmates by his own sober face, yet upon the whole he refrained from making as much noise as the rest. This man interested me at once; and since the sea-gds had ordained that he should become my shipmate (though but a sleeping-partner one, so far as this narrative is concerned), I will here venture upon a little description of him. He stood full six feet in height, with noble shoulders, and a chest like a coffer-dam. I have seldom seen such brawn in a man. His face was deeply brown and burnt, making his white teeth dazzling by contrast; while in the deep shadows of his eyes floated some reminiscences that did not seem to give him much joy. His voice at once announced that he was a Southerner, and from his fine stature, I thought he must be one of those tall mountaineers from the Alleghenian Ridge in Virginia. When the revelry of his companions had mounted to its height, this man slipped away unobserved, and I saw no more of him till he became my comrade on the sea. In a few minutes, however, he was missed by his ship-mates, and being, it seems, for some reason a huge favorite with them, they raised a cry of "Bulkington! Bulkington! where's Bulkington?" and darted out of the house after him.

Anyway, Chapter Twenty-Three is, as Ishmael calls it, "the stoneless grave of Bulkington." (pg. 112) He talks about how totally amazing it is that this guy just got off a ship, and here he is back on a ship again. It's almost like its his job or something. What're the odds?

The chapter ends in a flurry of exclamation points, with Ishmael shouting things at the reader like "Bear thee grimly, demigod!" (pg. 113).

In Chapter Twenty-Four: The Advocate, Ishmael advocates for whaling and goes into full-blown Harry Potter rage mode in the process.

He begins by establishing the fact that those in the whaling trade are not thought as highly of as people in certain other professions. Ishmael believes this is an outrage for several reasons, including but not limited to:

- Whaling is just as bloody and brutal as warfare, which puts whalemen on par with soldiers in terms of horrible sights seen and terrible deeds done. Therefore, whalemen should be regarded at least as highly as soldiers.

- Lots of nations spend lots of money on whaling fleets, therefore whaling is desirable, therefore whalemen are desirable.

- Whalemen are better than explorers in that they have seen more interesting and fantastic sights than explorers; the difference being these sights were simply so commonplace to whalemen that they didn't bother writing them down.*

- Whalemen are responsible for "the liberation of Peru, Chili, and Bolivia from the yoke of Old Spain, and the establishment of eternal democracy in these parts." (pg. 116)

- Whalemen also saved Australia from starvation. (???)

- "If that double-bolted land, Japan, is ever to become hospitable, it is the whale-ship alone to whom the credit will be due; for already she is on the threshold." (pg. 116) Not quite. While it seems that whaling played a fairly significant role, it was by no means the only factor. Conclusion: Ishmael is not nearly as gifted with prophecy as Elijah.

After this, things start to get weird, as Ishmael starts to make assumptions about the reader and asserts that he is "ready to shiver fifty lances with you there, and unhorse you with a split helmet every time." (pg. 116)

In the midst of his exclamation-point-filled shrieking, he does make one point that I can agree with.

pg. 117: Drive down your hat in the presence of the Czar, and take it off to Queequeg!

Fuck yeah, hats off to Queequeg. The dude is superman.**

Ishmael concludes his rant by saying "a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard," which is strong talk from a schoolteacher. Honestly, I'm surprised Melville didn't go whole-hog and title the chapter "WHALING IS AWESOME AND YOU ARE STUPID!!!"

Chapter Twenty-Five: Postscript is, again, a page, and Ishmael spends it telling the reader how the heads of British kings are anointed with oil. (Apparently this is a thing?) While Ishmael is not 100% sure what kind of oil is used, he likes to think that it is whale oil, because, as the last chapter explained, whaling is the best ever and you are a poophead for thinking otherwise.

*The specific example of weirdness that Ishmael gives is as follows:

pg. 115: [...] that Egyptian mother, who bore offspring themselves pregnant from her womb.

My first question is whether Ishmael is using the word "Egyptian" in the Hunchback of Notre Dame sense, or in the "someone who is actually from Egypt" sense. My second question is, the fuck?

**Tangent time! I'm doing a series of Moby Dick-based illustrations for class, because I can't get this stupid book out of my brain, and my professor asked why I'd given Queequeg such a superhero-esque physique. Once I explained that Queequeg shaved his face and ate his breakfast with a harpoon, carried a wheelbarrow with a sea chest in it on his back, could hit a spot of tar on the water with his harpoon from a boat, tossed a man in the air and later dove into the sea to save that man from drowning, and again, dives into a severed whale's head to save someone else from drowning, my professor saw that, okay, yeah, Queequeg's a gorram superhero and deserves to look like it.


---

Other adventures in Moby Dick include:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven (You Are Here)
Part Twelve
Part Thirteen
Part Fourteen
Part Fifteen
Part Sixteen
Part Seventeen
Part Eighteen
Part Nineteen
Part Twenty
Part Twenty-One
Part Twenty-Two

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ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)
ambrmerlinus

February 2012

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