Moby Dick (Chapters 21-30)


While reading Moby Dick, I have been selecting a quote which seems particularly pertinent to each chapter, in the hopes that at the conclusion I will have a collective summary of all the important bits. A summary, I hope, that will help tie it all together in my mind. I am posting them in groups of 10, so as not to be overwhelming to any of us, and so here are the quotes from Chapters 21-30:

Chapter 21: It was now clear sunrise. Soon the crew came on board in twos and threes: the riggers bestirred themselves; the mates were actively engaged; and several of the shore people were busy in bringing various last things on board. Meanwhile Captain Ahab remained invisibly enshrined within his cabin.

Chapter 22: ‘God bless ye, and have ye in His holy keeping, men,’ murmured old Bildad, almost incoherently. ‘I hope ye’ll have fine weather now, so that Captain Ahab may soon by moving among ye – a pleasant sun is all he needs, and ye’ll have plenty of them in the tropic voyage ye go. Be careful in the hung, ye mates. Don’t stave the boats needlessly, ye harpooneers; a good white cedar plank is raised full three per cent within the year.’

Chapter 23: But in that gale, the port, the land, is that ship’s direst jeopardy; she must fly all hospitality; one touch of land, though it but graze the keel, would make her shudder through and through.

Chapter 24: …many a veteran who has freely marched up to a battery, would quickly recoil at the apparition of the sperm whale’s vast tail, fanning into eddies the air over his head. For what are the comprehensible terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of God!

Chapter 25: But the only thing to be considered here, is this – what kind of oil is used at coronations? Certainly it cannot be olive oil, nor macassar oil, nor castor oil, nor bear’s oil, nor train oil, nor cod-liver oil. What then can it possibly be, but the sperm oil in its unmanufactured, in polluted state, the sweetest of all oils?

Chapter 26: Looking into his (Starbuck’s) eyes, you seemed to see there the yet lingering images of those thousandfold perils he had calmly confronted through life.

Chapter 27: What, perhaps, with other things, made Stubb such an easy-going, unseating man, so cheerily trudging off with the burden of life in a world full of grave peddlers, all bowed to the ground with their packs; what helped to bring about that almost impious good-humor of his; that thing must have been his pipe.

Chapter 28: More than once did he (Ahab) put forth the faint blossom of a look, which, in any other man, would have soon flowered out in a smile.

Chapter 29: Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like death.

Chapter 30: How could one look at Ahab then, seated on that tripod of bones, without bethinking him of the royalty it symbolized? For a Khan of the plank, and a king of the sea, and a great lord of Leviathans was Ahab.


I can’t imagine ever being bored by this novel. I have heard it is lengthy, and tiresome beyond compare, but I have yet to reach those parts.

5 thoughts on “Moby Dick (Chapters 21-30)

    • Well, the quotes are just snippets, and they do take some time to glean, but I would wholeheartedly recommend this novel. It is SO good. When I pick up other books of today, they so often pale in comparison to the weight and power of the classics.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe we have to come to books at the right time. Moby Dick is certainly hitting the spot for me as well, although I’ve had to lay it down again since a book on hold at the library came through. (The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati, which won the Strega Prize in Italy.)

      I have had a dreadful time completing books in August, one after another were abandoned by me. I cannot force myself to finish every single thing I pick up of it’s holding no meaning for me, yet I do try. I want to remind you that your comment on One Hundred Years of Solitude helped me a lot, and if I ever return to that novel I will bear it in mind. In a sense, I feel that you said it was onerous “on purpose”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That library loan sounds interesting. Maybe a short book by Márquez will be more enjoyable. Chronicle of a Death Foretold is perfectly executed, -pun not intended-, it’s such a well written novella.

        Not to pressure you in the least, but Ruth @ A Great Book Study, will host a read along of One Hundred Years starting I believe, next March -coinciding with his birth date-, and ending I forgot when, :), but one can take longer, -or shorter-. The motivation for me would be having others reading it around the same time, and possibly seeing some posts on the book. I’m curious to re-read it. I have read some of his shorter books in the not so distant past, but this one and Love in the Times of Cholera, I haven’t touched since my twenties.

        That’s also part of why I jumped to the opportunity to read Moby Dick. When some who love the book and understand the book, or who seem to be ready to connect with it, read it and write about it, I know I increase my chances of understanding enough as to connect with it myself.

        I listened to Rushdie talking about Midnight’s Children, and what the book meant to him and to people from India and Pakistan, and I started to understand better what I was listening to (I chose an audio for this one.) Likewise, it wasn’t until I heard a podcast on Great Gatsby that I decided to read it a second time, just to end up loving it.

        Many first times we just catch a first impression, or try to sort out something from the confusion. And if nothing, you read a bit of Marquez, and may leave it there, or go for a shorter work. The blogger at ireadthatinabook commented how she’s braver with books under 200 pages, 🙂


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