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Moby-Dick | Study Guide

Herman Melville

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Moby-Dick | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Saturday night, December

    Ishmael arrives in New Bedford.

    Chapter 2
  • Sunday morning

    Ishmael goes to chapel; Father Mapple preaches about Jonah.

    Chapter 8
  • Monday evening

    Ishmael and Queequeg arrive in Nantucket.

    Chapter 14
  • Christmas Day

    The Pequod departs on its voyage.

    Chapter 22
  • Several days later

    Ahab finally emerges from his cabin.

    Chapter 28
  • January

    Ahab's secret stowaway crew comes out of hiding.

    Chapter 47
  • February

    Ahab has a special harpoon made to kill Moby Dick.

    Chapter 113
  • Weeks later, first day

    Ahab sees Moby Dick.

    Chapter 113
  • Second day

    The crew of the Pequod tries to kill Moby Dick.

    Chapter 134
  • Third day

    The Pequod is destroyed and Ahab and most of the crew are killed. Ishmael survives.

    Chapter 135

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapters 1–2 As the novel begins, the narrator, Ishmael, introduces himself. He doesn't have much money and is feeling depressed, so ... Read More
Chapters 3–5 Ishmael enters the Spouter Inn. He is disappointed that there are no empty beds available, so he will have to share one ... Read More
Chapters 6–9 Out on the streets of New Bedford, Ishmael describes the variety of people who are out and about. He then assures the re... Read More
Chapters 10–12 Ishmael returns to the Spouter Inn, where Queequeg is sitting by the fire. Ishmael decides to try to make friends with h... Read More
Chapters 13–15 The next morning, the two unlikely friends borrow a wheelbarrow to transport their belongings to a small boat that will ... Read More
Chapters 16–19 Ishmael goes to see the boats that are available to decide which one he and Queequeg will try to sail on. There are thre... Read More
Chapters 20–23 A flurry of activity occurs to get the Pequod ready to sail. Ropes and canvas are brought on board as well as bedding, f... Read More
Chapters 24–25 The Pequod is well underway, and Ishmael takes a few moments to explain the virtues of the whaling industry. He notes th... Read More
Chapters 26–27 Ishmael describes Starbuck, a Quaker and first mate of the Pequod, as a hardy, tight-skinned man whose life at sea has m... Read More
Chapters 28–30 Captain Ahab is still nowhere to be seen, and Ishmael is more and more unnerved by his absence, recalling the odd things... Read More
Chapter 31 Stubb tells Flask about a dream he had: Captain Ahab kicked him with his whalebone leg, and Stubb kicked back, but in do... Read More
Chapters 32–34 Ishmael takes a break from the story to talk about cetology, the study of whales, explaining difficulties in classifying... Read More
Chapter 35 Ishmael is about to take his first turn at the masthead, looking constantly at the sea for signs of whales. He considers... Read More
Chapter 36 One morning after breakfast, Captain Ahab paces, lost in thought. The rest of the day, he shuts himself in his cabin at ... Read More
Chapters 37–40 Captain Ahab in Chapter 37 says that "all loveliness is anguish to me" and that he will do what he has decided to do eve... Read More
Chapters 41–42 Ishmael resumes telling the story. He says that he, as one of the crew, swore an oath to follow Captain Ahab on his "que... Read More
Chapters 43–46 In the middle of the night Archy, one of the crew, hears a strange noise like coughing or people turning over in their s... Read More
Chapters 47–49 It is a lazy afternoon, and Queequeg and Ishmael are making a sword-mat at a leisurely pace. Ishmael begins to imagine t... Read More
Chapters 50–51 Stubb and Flask disagree about whether a man with one leg should be on a whaling boat. Ishmael considers whether the Peq... Read More
Chapters 52–54 The Pequod is southeast of the Cape of Good Hope, entering the Indian Ocean, when it encounters the whaling ship Goney o... Read More
Chapters 55–57 In Chapters 55 and 56, Ishmael notes that most representations of whales with which land-dwelling folks are familiar bea... Read More
Chapters 58–59 The Pequod is still on a northeasterly course and passes through patches of brit, a food source for the "Right Whale," w... Read More
Chapters 60–63 Ishmael describes the whale line, which he calls "magical, sometimes horrible." This line is thin but very strong, and i... Read More
Chapters 64–66 Three boats tow the dead whale back to the ship. Ishmael notes that Captain Ahab seems a little restless, as if not quit... Read More
Chapters 67–72 Ishmael notes that the cutting in—or removal of the blubber from the whale—took place on the Sabbath, then describes the... Read More
Chapters 73–80 As Chapter 73 begins, a sperm whale's head hangs at the side of the ship. Unexpectedly, an order is given to kill a righ... Read More
Chapters 81–83 The Pequod meets up with the Jungfrau, a German whaling ship captained by Derick De Deer. Captain De Deer comes aboard t... Read More
Chapter 84 Ishmael explains that the bottom of the whale boat is usually oiled so it moves faster in the water. Queequeg oils his b... Read More
Chapters 85–90 Ishmael explains that a whale needs to spout water because it has lungs and can't breathe through its mouth when it is u... Read More
Chapters 91–92 In Chapter 91, the Pequod comes upon a French whaling ship, the Bouton de Rose, which is cutting up a dead, rotting whal... Read More
Chapter 93 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 b... Read More
Chapters 94–98 The whale is cut up and emptied of its spermaceti. Some of the spermaceti has crystallized, and Ishmael and some of the ... Read More
Chapter 99 One morning as Captain Ahab paces the deck, his gaze falls on the gold coin that he'd fixed to the main mast of the ship... Read More
Chapters 100–101 The Pequod encounters a whaling ship from London, the Samuel Enderby, and, of course, Captain Ahab asks if they have see... Read More
Chapters 102–105 Ishmael notes that he has mostly described the outside of the whale, so now he's going to describe its "innermost bones"... Read More
Chapters 106–108 When returning to the Pequod from the Samuel Enderby, Captain Ahab had damaged his peg leg, so now he feels it is not "e... Read More
Chapter 109 Starbuck brings an oil leak to Captain Ahab's attention, but Ahab is uninterested—all he wants is to kill Moby Dick. Sta... Read More
Chapter 110 Queequeg becomes very ill and asks for a canoe-shaped coffin to be made for him. He then asks to be laid in the coffin a... Read More
Chapters 111–114 The Pequod enters the Pacific Ocean, and Ishmael describes the sea's "serene" beauty as "a thousand leagues of blue." He... Read More
Chapters 115–117 Weeks after Captain Ahab's new harpoon is completed, the Pequod encounters another whaling ship, the Bachelor, which is ... Read More
Chapters 118–123 The Pequod enters the Sea of Japan, and Captain Ahab uses his quadrant to find the ship's latitude. His intention is to ... Read More
Chapters 124–125 Captain Ahab realizes from the position of the sun that though all the compasses on board are pointing east, the ship is... Read More
Chapters 126–127 The ship nears the equator where they expect to find Moby Dick. Just before dawn, the crew hears a "wild and unearthly" ... Read More
Chapters 128–130 The Pequod encounters another whaling ship, the Rachel, captained by Captain Gardiner. When asked, "Hast seen the White ... Read More
Chapters 131–132 The Pequod encounters another whaling ship, the Delight, which has a shattered whaleboat on board. Captain Ahab asks, "H... Read More
Chapters 133–Epilogue Captain Ahab is the one who first sights the White Whale. Ahab's boat, Stubb's boat, and Flask's boat are lowered, and t... Read More
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