Chapter 16 Notes from Moby Dick

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Moby Dick Chapter 16

Chapter 16

The Ship

That night, Queequeg tells Ishmael that Queequeg's god, Yogo, has ordered that Ishmael go alone to pick out a ship for the two of them to join up with. Ishmael is reluctant, but is unable to convince Queequeg to change his mind, so he eventually agrees.

The next day, Ishmael goes to the docks. He explores two ships before coming upon the Pequod, and immediately decides that it is the one for them. The ship is impressive:

"A noble craft, but somehow most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that." Chapter 16, pg. 58

Topic Tracking: Fate 5

Inside a tent on the quarterdeck, Ishmael meets Captain Peleg, an elderly gruff man, who is one of the two owners of the ship. Peleg asks about Ishmael's experience, and then tells him about the Pequod's captain, Captain Ahab, who lost one of his legs to a whale. Peleg agrees to take Ishmael on, and brings him down below-deck to meet the other owner of the boat, Captain Bildad, a strictly religious man. Bildad offers Ishmael the 777th share, or lay, of the profits, but Peleg argues him up to 300th; Ishmael, who expected a greater amount, agrees. He mentions Queequeg, and the two captains agree to sign him on.

Before he leaves, Ishmael asks Peleg about Ahab. Peleg says that Ahab is still recovering from losing the leg, and is resting before the voyage:

"'He's a grand, ungodly, god-like man, Captain Ahab; doesn't speak much; but, when he does speak, then you may well listen. Mark ye, be forewarned; Ahab's above the common; Ahab's been in colleges, as well as 'mong the cannibals; been used to deeper wonders than the waves; fixed his fiery lance in mightier, stranger foes than whales.'" Chapter 16, pg. 67

Peleg hints that something in Ahab's last voyage changed him. Ishmael departs, wondering about Ahab, but certain that the Pequod was the right ship for him and Queequeg.

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