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Chapters 82–92

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Chapters 82–92

Chapters 82–92

Chapters 82–92

Chapters 82–92

Chapter 82: The Honor and Glory of Whaling

Ishmael considers the heroic history of whaling. He draws from Greek mythology, popular British legend, the Judeo-Christian Bible, and Hindu mythology: Perseus, St. George, Hercules, Jonah, and Vishnu (whose name Melville spells “Vishnoo”) can all be considered whalemen based on the stories told about their exploits.

Chapter 83: Jonah Historically Regarded

Ishmael examines the Jonah story—which has shadowed the novel ever since the “Extracts” and Father Mapple’s sermon in New Bedford—through the eyes of an old Sag Harbor whaleman who questions the tale based on his personal experience. Sag Harbor, as Ishmael calls him, doesn’t believe that a whale of the kind described in the Bible could swallow a man, and he thinks that a whale’s gastric juices would not permit a man to survive in the whale’s stomach. Ishmael details various theologians’ arcane responses to such practical questions.

Chapter 84: Pitchpoling

Ishmael describes the process of oiling a harpoon boat’s underside to increase speed. He reports that Queequeg performs this task carefully, seemingly with an awareness that the Pequod will encounter whales later that day. Stubb harpoons a fast and tireless whale. In order to capture it, he must “pitchpole” it by throwing a long lance from the jerking boat to secure the running whale. Stubb’s lance strikes home, and the whale spouts blood.

Chapter 85: The Fountain

With an attempt at scientific precision, Ishmael discusses how whales spout. He cannot define exactly what the spout is, so he has to put forward a hypothesis: the spout is nothing but mist, like the “semi-visible steam” emitted from the head of such ponderous beings as Plato, Pyrrho, the Devil, Jupiter, Dante, and even himself.

Chapter 86: The Tail

Ishmael then considers the opposite end of the animal, celebrating the whale’s most famous part: its tail. He admires its combination of power and grace, and muses that it represents the whale’s attempts to reach to heaven—the tail is often seen protruding toward the skies. Whether this positioning is viewed as an act of angelic adoration or demoniac defiance (like the shaking of a fist) on the whale’s part depends on the mood of the spectator. Ishmael notes that the tail is the sperm whale’s most frequent means of inflicting injury upon men.

Chapter 87: The Grand Armada

When the Pequod sails through the straits of Sunda (near Indonesia) without pulling into any port, Ishmael takes the opportunity to discuss the isolation and self-containment of a whaling ship. While in the straits, the Pequod encounters a great herd of sperm whales swimming in a circle (the “Grand Armada”), but, as the ship chases the whales, it is itself pursued by Malay pirates. The Pequod escapes the pirates and launches boats after the whales, somehow ending up inside their circle, a placid lake. One harpooned whale flounders in pain, causing panic among the whole herd. The boats in the middle are in danger but manage to escape the chaos. They “drugg” the whales by attaching lines with large blocks of wood attached, which provide resistance and tire the swimming whales. The whalemen also try to “waif” the whales, marking them with pennoned poles as the Pequod’s, to be taken later. They succeed in capturing only one whale.

Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 82–92 Quiz

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Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 82–92 Quiz



What does Ishmael claim is the most famous part of a whale?
Its fin
Its blowhole
Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 82–92 Quiz

Chapters 82–92 QUIZ

Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 82–92 Quiz

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Moby Dick

by anon_2223138591, January 04, 2015

Probably the best book ever written.Profound psychological insights into human behaviour .


7 out of 12 people found this helpful


by LunaJeong, April 12, 2015



by Tom_Jones66, July 04, 2015

Frankly, I find Moby Dick to be a very enigmatic story, but it was required reading for my college degree and I am still trying to understand the importance of this novel.
A man obsessed with a white whale must be a metaphor for man's quest, but it is still puzzling to me.
I am hoping to Spark Notes can consolidate and distill the message, but life always has more pressing matters for me to attend to than deciphering old texts.
Can anyone tell me why this enduring novel is important - in 25 words or less?


13 out of 21 people found this helpful

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