Moby-Dick Questions Ch. 87: How do you interpret this chapter
How do you interpret this chapter? As the Pequod pursues the Grand Armada of sperm whales, what pursues them? What do you make of Ishmael’s description of Ahab’s brow on p. 419 ? Contrast Ahab’s brow on pp. 215 [166-167] and 419  with the whale’s brow on p. 379 . How does Starbuck’s boat get into the center of the whale pod? What is the significance of Queequeg mistaking an umbilical cord for a harpoon line? How do you interpret Ishmael saying that “while ponderous planets of unwaning woe revolve round me, deep down and deep inland there I still bathe me in eternal mildness of joy.” How does this relate to the scene, immediately following, of the wounded whale, “tormented to madness,” “now churning through the water, violently flailing with his flexible tail, and tossing the keen spade about him, wounding and murdering his own comrades”? (p. 424-425 [303-304]) What do you make of the fact that the only families we see in the novel are these families of whales? Who and what is to blame for the disruption of this idyllic domestic scene? How do you compare the domestic scene of the whales with that of Ishmael and Queequeg at the Spouter-Inn? How does whaling affect families (both human and whale)?