Moby Dick Chapter 82 - 84
Chapter 82 - 84
The Honor and the Glory of Whaling/Jonah Historically Regarded/Pitchpoling
The history of whaling stretches far back into the past. There is the myth of Perseus, who killed a leviathan to save the maiden Andromeda; the famous story of St. George and the Dragon could be about whales. Even Vishnoo, one of the three persons of the Hindu god, has had dealings with the whale.
Some Nantucketers distrust the story of Jonah. Pictures in the Bible show Jonah being swallowed by a whale with two spouts, indicating a Right Whale; such a whale couldn't swallow something as big as a man. A bishop argued against this by saying that Jonah could have been lodged in the mouth of the whale, not the stomach. There are many combating theories, including the idea that Jonah took refuge in a dead whale. To many, the distance that Jonah traveled in the whale seemed impossible, but then there were passages that made it possible; besides, it was in the order of a miracle.
It is a popular belief that by greasing the bottom of a whaling boat, it can be made to move faster. Queequeg believes strongly in this, and one morning after the encounter with the Jungfrau, he took pains in anointing his boat.
Whales are spotted, and boats are lowered after them. The whales move fast, but Tashtego is able to hit one; however, the whale keeps swimming, and there is the danger that it will pull free of the harpoon. Stubb takes after it in the process of pitchpoling; with a long lance, connected to a length of rope, he darts the whale, then pulls the lance back, and repeats the process. He does this until the whale dies.