Moby-Dick | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Chapter 84

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 84 of Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick.

Moby-Dick | Chapter 84 | Summary

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Summary

Ishmael explains that the bottom of the whale boat is usually oiled so it moves faster in the water. Queequeg oils his boat, and soon they see some whales. Tashtego manages to harpoon one, which continues swimming away quickly. It becomes necessary to strike at the whale in a maneuver called pitchpoling—throwing a long lance at him from a rocking and jerking boat as he is moving fast. Stubb manages to pitchpole the whale and finally kills it.

Analysis

This chapter describes the second time that Queequeg seems to have foreknowledge of an imminent whale sighting. In Chapter 61, Queequeg announced: "When you see him 'quid ... then you quick see him 'parm whale." So, indeed, sperm whales are sighted. Here again, Queequeg anticipates the sighting of whales. He is busy oiling his boat and seems "to be working in obedience to some particular presentiment."

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