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All Whaled Out March 26, 2012

Posted by nrlymrtl in Moby Dick.
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These kitties are hoping for some fish.

My final thoughts on Moby Dick:

That crazy dude, Cpt. Ahab, had only spent like 4 years on land for 40 at sea, whaling. He married some lass half his age and spent 1 night in the marriage bed before setting sail again. So Cpt. Ahab doesn’t like land and isn’t too partial to the married life. He let his life be defined by this mad hunt for the White Whale. He offered his crew a gold doubloon to the one who sights Moby Dick. Yet then claims the first sighting, and hence, the reward, for himself. Talk about demotivational acts by the management.

There was a chunk of a chapter that spent some quality time talking about how the sturgeon and the whale are the only 2 Royal Fish (English). That it is standard to present the head of a whale, or at least the head bones, to the King and the tail of the whale to the Queen. Why? Melville asks this question too, without coming up with a satisfactory reason. Intriguing.

The ending was a surprise to me. I managed to miss many of these classics through my public schooling and had avoided hearing about the ending to this story. I spent the entire book wondering what Ahab would feel upon finally catching, and conquering, his wet, salty foe (it was my assumption that he would get his whale). SPOILER ALERT so when Ahab doesn’t get his whale, and indeed, Ishmael is the only survivor left, I felt a little let down; yet oddly satisfied that Ahab doesn’t get to sail away smugly END SPOILER.

As a closing note on this story, the narrator Ishmael spends some quality time convincing the readers that whales will not, indeed cannot, be hunted to extinction. He cites that the whales are infinitely plentiful due to the vastness of the seas and the fact that the whales will always have the poles, where humans cannot follow for hunting. See my response to that below.

1700s – Atlantic population of the Gray Whale went extinct

2006 – Yangtze River Dolphin declared extinct

2010 – The Gray Whale, thought to be extinct for centuries, was spotted in the Mediterranean

HERE is an excellent site with numbers representing the effects of whaling industry on the prevalence of whales.

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