What does Queequeg represent?

Queequeg, the cannibal with whom Ishmael shares a room upon arriving at New Bedford, is a representation of “the other.” With his skin covered in tattoos and his idol-worshipping, Ishmael initially fears his bedfellow because of how different his culture is from the Christian ideologies that make up his own worldview. He quickly comes to realize, however, that Queequeg has a good heart and is a loyal friend, qualities which work to dispel his unease about interacting with people unlike himself. Melville uses their relationship to reject the assumption that otherness should be feared.

Why does Ahab want revenge?

In the most literal sense, Captain Ahab seeks revenge because, in a previous encounter with Moby Dick, he lost his leg to him. This almost fatal encounter enraged Ahab, and the emotional woundedness he feels in its aftermath spirals into a blind, unwavering commitment to destroying Moby Dick. On a broader level, Ahab’s pursuit of the White Whale represents his desire to reclaim a sense of power and authority over a world which, like a whale, is ultimately enigmatic.

What does Fedallah predict about Ahab’s death?

After killing a whale far from the Pequod, Ahab and his crew spend the night out on their boat watching over it. Fedallah wakes Ahab to tell him about a dream which prophesizes that he cannot die until he sees two hearses upon the sea, one “not made by mortal hands” and the other made of American wood. Fedallah also reveals that he will die before the captain, and a rope will ultimately be Ahab’s demise. Ahab believes that this means he will be invincible in his pursuit of Moby Dick as hearses and death by hanging seem impossible at sea.

What happens to Moby Dick at the end of the book?

At the end of the novel, the Pequod pursues Moby Dick over the course of three days. The White Whale survives the first two days of attacks and nearly kills Ahab by sinking the smaller boat that he sails during the hunt. On the third day, Moby Dick sinks the Pequod, but Ahab manages to strike him with a harpoon. In the process, however, Ahab gets caught in the flying line and drowns. Melville does not explicitly state whether or not Moby Dick dies, but given his ability to evade years of hunting, it seems likely that he survived Ahab’s attack. 

How does Ishmael change throughout the novel?

At the beginning of the novel, Ishmael is skeptical of the diverse world he finds himself in upon arriving in New Bedford. The different cultures he encounters, especially when he meets Queequeg, challenge his Christian point of view and invite him to broaden his understanding of those around him. Ishmael’s intimate friendship with Queequeg, his discussions about the notion of interpretation, and his eventual decision to cover his own skin with tattoos reveal a move toward a more open-minded perspective. Voyaging on the Pequod allows Ishmael to embrace the world’s inherent uncertainty.