Literature Study GuidesMoby DickChapters 13 15 Summary

Moby-Dick | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Moby-Dick | Chapters 13–15 | Summary

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Summary

The next morning, the two unlikely friends borrow a wheelbarrow to transport their belongings to a small boat that will take them to Nantucket. Along the way, Queequeg tells Ishmael stories that illustrate the way people make funny mistakes when they are strangers in a new culture. They arrive at the boat, and it sails off toward Nantucket. Some of the "bumpkins" on board the small boat make fun of Queequeg, who throws one of them into the air. In the uproar that follows, the man is swept overboard by the boom of the sailboat, and Queequeg jumps in to save him from drowning.

The boat arrives in Nantucket in Chapter 14. Ishmael gives a bit of history of the island and elaborates on how the people of Nantucket became the masters of the sea, perfectly at home on it. Ishmael and Queequeg go ashore in Chapter 15 and find a place to stay, the Try Pots, famous for its chowder. Though it is dark out, they find their way to the inn and are rewarded with bowls of delicious clam chowder served by a cantankerous Mrs. Hussey. After eating, they go to bed.

Analysis

These chapters continue to develop the friendship between Ishmael and Queequeg as well as the idea that even though he is a pagan, Queequeg is more honorable than many Christians. Ishmael and Queequeg combine their belongings into one wheelbarrow, which is a lovely symbolic action used to show their unity in friendship. On the boat to Nantucket, the two are harassed by other passengers, but after Queequeg dives in after a man who falls overboard, the other men seem to come around. Ishmael is going to great lengths to show just how great a guy Queequeg is.

Mrs. Hussey appears in this chapter as a typical whaleman's wife, a no-nonsense woman who runs the affairs of home and business with efficiency while her husband is away at sea. Her inn is called the Try Pots, named after the large pots used to boil the whale oil out of the flesh, as described later in the novel.

Foreshadowing again plays an important role in setting the tone of these chapters, despite their rather lighthearted content. To Ishmael, the Try Pots sign looks like a gallows: "A Coffin my Innkeeper upon landing in my first whaling port; tombstones staring at me in the whalemen's chapel, and here a gallows!" Careful readers will also take note that Ishmael gives away part of the novel's ending in Chapter 13 as he compares Queequeg's dive to save a man with his "last long dive."

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