Moby-Dick

by: Herman Melville

Important Quotations Explained

1. How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts’ honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cosy, loving pair.

This passage comes at the end of Chapter 10, when Ishmael is forced to share a bed with the tattooed “savage” Queequeg at the Spouter-Inn. At first horrified, Ishmael is quickly impressed by Queequeg’s dignity and kindness. The homoerotic overtones of their sharing a bed and staying up much of the night smoking and talking suggests a profound, close bond born of mutual dependence and a world in which merit, rather than race or wealth, determines a man’s status. The men aboard the Pequod are everything to one another, and the relationships between them are stronger and more meaningful than even that between man and wife. Ishmael’s willingness to describe his relationship with Queequeg in such conjugal terms (“honeymoon”) symbolizes his openness to new experiences and people.