Artboard Created with Sketch. Close Search Dialog
! Error Created with Sketch.

Melville Stories

Herman Melville
Summary "The Encantadas" (Sketches 1–5)
Summary "The Encantadas" (Sketches 1–5)

The tortoises also serve as an important symbol elsewhere. Some of Melville's dry humor comes across in the sentence, "[The tortoises'] crowning curse is their drudging impulse to straightforwardness in a belittered world." This clever line works on two levels. It can be taken literally—the tortoises suffer in the world because they are too dumb to go around objects; and it can be read metaphorically, pertaining to people who are too narrow-minded to overcome the "obstacles" that appear in their own "belittered world." It is a slight, wry nudge to those tortoises of the human world that refuse to go around problems when they can't go through them.