Moby Dick Part III

The third part of my grand expedition to finish this monster of a book.

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(Originally posted on, on May 7, 2017)

Moby Dick Part III has finally arrived. Today we cover chapters 75 – 105. Ishmael continues to educate us about the anatomy of sperm and right whales. These chapters are interesting but really, really long. The anatomy lessons continue up until Chapter 81, where the Pequod (Ishmael’s Ship) meets the Virgin, a ship completely out of oil since they haven’t caught any whales and they have come aboard the Pequod to beg for more oil.

Captain Ahab asks the captain if they had seen the white whale, but they have no information. It is at this point of which I begin to doubt if they’ll ever see the white whale. A chase ensues, a few whales appearing and both ships desperately trying to catch them. The Pequod gets there first and gets one whale. I pity the crew of the Virgin- they seem very inexperienced and leave the chapter by chasing a whale called a Finback, which is nearly impossible to catch.

Ishmael once again mentions the glory of whaling, labeling several heroic legends ‘whalers’ since they killed whales. In this category falls Perseus, St. George, Hercules, Jonah, and Vishnoo, several legends that have killed whales and are therefore whalers. He then proceeds to study Jonah’s story in the next chapter. If you have something against whaling, then this is not the book for you.Then Ishmael rotates back to whale anatomy, talking about the spouts and tails of whales.

The Pequod is chased by pirates… which I feel is heavily foreshadowed by Ishmael’s bitterness towards pirates in earlier chapters. Whaling is honorable, but pirating is not.

The Pequod then meets the Rose-Bud, which has two useless whales with no oil in them. One of the Pequod crew thinks that one of the whales has a substance called “ambergris” inside it and fools the Rose-Bud into throwing away both whales and then takes the one with the substance inside. Ishmael then gives us more information on this substance and ponders over the smell of a whale. The inaction can be very dull- chapters of the Pequod meeting other ships tends to be the most exciting, then followed by countless informative chapters. I had hoped that earlier in this they’d find a ship with knowledge of the white whale, but no one seems to have any idea where it is.

After some informative information on oil processing, at chapter 100, the Pequod meets the Samuel Enderby, a ship containing knowledge of the white whale. The Samuel Enderby’s captain lost an arm to the whale (this whale is a master of amputations) and reluctantly gives Ahab the direction of the white whale. They think he’s crazy for continually pursuing the white whale, and they are completely correct. Ahab leaves the ship very abruptly and violently, refusing the other ship’s hospitality.

These Chapters are definitely speeding up. I feel a climax approaching… in Part Four.


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