Literature Study GuidesMoby DickChapters 91 92 Summary

Moby-Dick | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Moby-Dick | Chapters 91–92 | Summary

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Summary

In Chapter 91, the Pequod comes upon a French whaling ship, the Bouton de Rose, which is cutting up a dead, rotting whale. This ship also carries a sperm whale that very likely has ambergris inside—an expensive substance produced by whales and used by perfumers. Stubb tricks the other whaling ship out of this valuable whale, and, indeed, they find ambergris inside. In Chapter 92, the various uses and properties of ambergris are described, and the misconception that whales smell bad is dismissed.

Analysis

These two chapters explain what ambergris is and why it is valuable, all the while making the French whalemen seem ignorant and gullible. The French ship is easily conned out of its ambergris-containing whale, and furthermore Ishmael notes that by having a smelly, rotting whale, the French perpetuate a belief that Ishmael says is untrue: that whales and whalemen stink. He admits that the process of rending the oil from the whale flesh can be smelly, but it only takes a short time.

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