Moby-Dick | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Moby-Dick | Chapter 93 | Summary

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Summary

Pip, a young member of the crew, must fill in as oarsman on Stubb's boat. In the midst of a hunt, Pip jumps out of his boat and gets caught up in the rope, which then has to be cut, saving Pip but letting the whale go. Stubb angrily tells him never to do that again, but being young and afraid he jumps again. Stubb refuses to rescue Pip, leaving him in the water as he chases after another whale. Pip is finally rescued, but he is never quite right after that. Whereas others see Pip as an "idiot," Ishmael believes that he seems mad because he has seen "God's foot upon the treadle of the loom."

Analysis

Stubb is once again seen treating the darker-skinned crew members badly. Just as he seems unnecessarily harsh to Fleece in Chapter 64, he is cruel toward Pip here. Yet in both cases, Ishmael seems to portray the disrespected person in a complimentary, even admiring, light: Fleece's preaching was nearer Ishmael's sense of true religion than was Father Mapple's, and little Pip is a nicer person than Stubb: "Pip, though over tender-hearted, was at bottom very bright, with that pleasant, genial, jolly brightness peculiar to his tribe; a tribe, which ever enjoy all holidays and festivities with finer, freer relish than any other race ... But Pip loved life, and all life's peaceable securities."

At the end of the chapter, Ishmael again engages the idea of destiny using weaving imagery, saying that it is God who is the weaver. Pip's near-death experience as he is terrified and floating alone in the water before he is rescued seems to imbue Pip with a kind of knowledge of God that only Captain Ahab later understands. Indeed, Ahab has had his own near-death experience when he lost his leg to Moby Dick, and this episode presages their personal connection later in the novel. Ishmael can't seem to pass up an opportunity to foreshadow the end of the narrative, as he compares Pip's experience with the final outcome of his story: "in the sequel of the narrative, it will then be seen what like abandonment befell myself."

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