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Chapter Eighteen: His Mark

The next morning, Ishmael and Queequeg head out to get Queequeg signed up to sail on the Pequod. They encounter immediate resistance from Captains Peleg and Bildad, who were not informed that Queequeg is "a cannibal" and furthermore declare that No Cannibals Allowed.

There is, however, a loophole. If said "cannibal" has converted to Christianity, then by all means, he's welcome. Latching on to this loophole, Ishmael assures Peleg and Bildad that, yes, Queequeg is totally and 100% converted, why would you even question it. Peleg still has some doubts.

pg. 94: "No," said Peleg, "and he hasn't been baptized right either, or it would have washed some of that devil's blue off his face."

Either Peleg severely overestimates the power of holy water, or he doesn't understand how tattoos work.

They ask what church Queequeg belongs to, and Ishmael gives them this answer:

pg. 94: "I don't know anything about Deacon Deuteronomy or his meeting," said I, "all I know is, that Queequeg here is a born member of the First Congregational Church. He is a deacon himself, Queequeg is. [...] I mean, sir, the same ancient Catholic Church to which you and I, and Captain Peleg there, and Queequeg here, and al of us, and every mother's son and soul of us belong; the great and everlasting First Congregation of this whole worshipping world; we all belong to that; only some of us cherish some queer crotchets noways touching the grand belief; in that we all join hands."

Apparently Ishmael's capacity for religious tolerance increases tenfold after breakfast.

At any rate, the speech is enough to convince Peleg and Bildad to let Queequeg aboard. Or rather, "Quohog," as Peleg calls him.*

Peleg questions whether "Quohog" can harpoon a whale. Queequeg's response is to jump off the ship into the bow of one of the whale-boats hanging off the side, point out a itty bitty spot of tar on the water, and blast it out of existence with his harpoon.

Let's just say that Queequeg is the Robin Hood of the sea and have done with it.

This display of skill seems to satisfy the Captains.

pg. 95: "Quick, I say, you Bildad, and get the ship's papers. We must have Hedgehog there, I mean Quohog, in one of our boats. Look ye, Quohog, we'll give ye the ninetieth lay, and that's more than ever was given a harpooneer out of Nantucket."


Queequeg can't write, so he can't sign his name like the others, but he does copy down "an exact counterpart of a queer round figure which was tattooed upon his arm" (pg. 95). According to my copy of the book, it looks an awful lot like the infinity sign.

Bildad also gives Queequeg a pamphlet called "The Latter Day Coming; or No Time to Lose." In my head it is a Jack Chick Tract and I am heartily amused.

In Chapter Nineteen: The Prophet, Queequeg and Ishmael depart the Pequod and, on their way back to Try Pots, are accosted by a pockmarked prophet.

PROPHET: Did you just sign on to that ship?
ISHMAEL: [staaaaares]
PROPHET: That ship! Did you sign the papers?
ISHMAEL: [still staaaaaaring] A-yup.
PROPHET: Did they say anything about your souls?
ISHMAEL: Our what now?
PROPHET: Oh, perhaps you hav'n't got any. No matter though, I know many chaps that hav'n't got any,–good luck to 'em; and they are all the better off for it. A soul's a sort of fifth wheel to a wagon.**
ISHMAEL: ...Are you going to have a point sometime soon?
PROPHET: Not really, beyond adding to the clumsy foreshadowing. Basically I'm here to tell you that Ahab's a freaky-deaky monster and to make you feel reeeeeal nervous about shipping out with him.
ISHMAEL: Great. Have fun with that. What's your name, again?
PROPHET: Elijah. [ominous thunderclap clearly implied]

Ishmael and Queequeg bid Elijah adieu and go back to the inn, deciding that Elijah is clearly nuts. OR IS HE?


As a reward for reading this far, may I present to you some harpooneer butt:

Click to make it bigger. Really, it's a "thank you" for [profile] drayexmachina in exchange for being my beta reader. But it's also an excuse to draw Queequeg looking sexyfine, so I figured I'd share.

*First person to mention that "Quahog" is the name of the town that Family Guy is set in gets a harpoon to the face.
**Straight from the book, I'm not even joking.


Other adventures in Moby Dick include:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine (You Are Here)
Part Ten
Part Eleven
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)

February 2012

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