I am so glad they're finally on the frigging boat. Holy heck this is going to be a crazy long read, I'm already exhausted. We're third week in and Meghan and I just had a not-so-hypothetical conversation about burning these books at the end of this (stay tuned). I had a hard time with the narrator in this section. It's hard for me to understand what's meant to be happening as Ishmael is clearly narrating in first person but he also insists that he's writing this all as opposed to living it, so are we meant to be reading his book or his journals? If anyone has any insight here please holla.
The character development has actually been easy to follow this section. I like the little quirks Melville has thrown in, for example, how one captain tells the crew they can't swear while the other is a crazy curser.
My favourite part of this entire section is that by chapter 24, Ishmael is already calling himself a whaler (insert cry-laughing face here). I think this is hysterical and I also know this would 100% be Meg and I. We were literally told not five chapters earlier that Ishmael has zero whaling experience and has only been on a few merchant voyages and yet here this little snake is going on about the injustices that whalers suffer. For example, whalers get a bad reputation for being dirty butchers while soldiers, who kill humans, get all this glory and attention from women. I would have been on that boat for all of 45 minutes before I'd be going on about the whaling woes and referring to myself as a whaler.
I also really liked the quote, "an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward," (112). I would really love to know what 'careful' even means to the whaling community though. It seems like a bit of an oxymoron to be 'careful' as you chase after huge whales in tiny boats and throw spears at them.
Thank god for a short section eh? I only have three notes on my phone that I wanted to address, so my write up will be tiny. But I will be more active in the comments section this week.
In chapter 24, The Advocate, I really liked how they open it up with discussing whaling as a profession ... about how people look down on them like glorified butchers. "But butchers, also, and butchers of the bloodiest badge have been all Martial Commanders whom the world invariable delights to honor." I don't really know why I like this passage but I assume it is because I always assume whatever I am doing is the most noble / most difficult, and people "just don't understand."
Ahhh but really my favourite line so far in all 140 pages that I have read is the following:
"'I will have no man in my boat,' said Starbuck, 'who is not afraid of a whale.' By this, he seemed to mean, not only that the most reliable and useful courage was that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered peril, but that an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward."
I just want to scream, "Ahad! I'm that coward!!! I can be that coward!!"
I also need to address the fact that Meg and I are writing identical things here .... So this is becoming less about the book and more about our shared consciousness.