Literature Study GuidesMoby DickChapters 24 25 Summary

Moby-Dick | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Moby-Dick | Chapters 24–25 | Summary

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Summary

The Pequod is well underway, and Ishmael takes a few moments to explain the virtues of the whaling industry. He notes that people think those in the whaling industry are disreputable because they work in dirty conditions and are uncouth; but as soldiers, whose job is at least as bloody and dirty as whaling, they come home to a hero's welcome. He also explains that whaling is a very profitable business, and that whale ships have aided in exploration of Earth to its most remote parts. In increasing enthusiasm for whales and whaling, he argues vehemently against several other beliefs about why whales and whaling are unimportant or undignified. Chapter 25 provides an additional thought about this topic. In his role of advocate for whaling and whalemen, Ishmael points out that it is oil from whales that is used in the coronations of Britain's kings.

Analysis

This section introduces Ishmael as the advocate of whales and whaling, a side of Ishmael that will emerge again and again throughout the novel. He believes that whales and whalemen are misunderstood and disrespected, so he argues for a more respectful attitude toward them. This sometimes takes the form of protesting against some misconception he thinks people have. At other times, it takes the form of elaborate descriptions of whales or whaling processes, meant to show that the whales are noble and awe inspiring, and the whalemen are hardworking, courageous, and clean.

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