Literature Study GuidesMoby DickChapters 100 101 Summary

Moby-Dick | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Moby-Dick | Chapters 100–101 | Summary

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Summary

The Pequod encounters a whaling ship from London, the Samuel Enderby, and, of course, Captain Ahab asks if they have seen the White Whale. Captain Boomer says they did see Moby Dick, and he holds up his arm made of whalebone to attest to this fact. Ahab excitedly decides to go to the other ship to discuss this, but it is tricky because the Samuel Enderby doesn't have places for him to put his whalebone leg. He is lifted on board, and the two captains "shake bones"—one arm and one leg. Boomer tells Ahab that they saw the White Whale near the equator, and describes the fight in which the whale severed his arm. Ahab is so excited, he goes back to the Pequod in haste. Boomer wonders if Ahab is crazy. In Chapter 101, Ishmael explores the history of British whaling, a few of the differences between English and Nantucket whaling, and the food typically found on British whaling ships.

Analysis

At the beginning of Chapter 100, it seems that Captain Ahab has finally found a friend. Captain Boomer and Ahab have important things in common—they both fought Moby Dick and lost a limb as a result. They both have whalebone limbs. Ahab is very excited and asks to hear the tale of Boomer's encounter with the White Whale. However, the new friendship begins to go sour almost at once, as it becomes clear that Boomer and his crew do not harbor real ill will toward the whale. Instead, they just want to tell their story and laugh about it in retrospect. In contrast, Ahab is only interested in the parts of the story that help him on his mission. He interrupts the storytelling with "What became of the White Whale?" and "How long since thou sawist him last?" and "Which way heading?" Ahab rudely departs and refuses to look back as they leave the other ship behind.

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