Moby-Dick | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Course Hero. "Moby-Dick Study Guide." October 13, 2016. Accessed October 15, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Moby-Dick/.

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Course Hero, "Moby-Dick Study Guide," October 13, 2016, accessed October 15, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Moby-Dick/.

Moby-Dick | Chapter 110 | Summary

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Summary

Queequeg becomes very ill and asks for a canoe-shaped coffin to be made for him. He then asks to be laid in the coffin along with his harpoon and some other odds and ends. After a while, satisfied that he fits into his coffin, Queequeg lies in his hammock where he regains the will to live and so recovers. He begins to use his coffin to store things in, and he carves a copy of his tattoos into the lid.

Analysis

Queequeg's coffin is a paradox in the novel: It is symbolic of death, yet it saves a life. This chapter relates the origin of the coffin, which gets special attention because Ishmael is telling this story after it is all over. He knows the ending, but the making of the coffin also allows Ishmael to consider the role of free will in a person's destiny again. This time, he seems to come down on the side of human will having the upper hand: "If a man made up his mind to live, mere sickness could not kill him."

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