Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reading Period 4: September 17-23: Enter Ahab: Then, all

Click to find out more about a "real life" Pequod
Long Read:

Moby Dick chapters 21-40. If this is too much reading, and you must skip, follow this guide:
Read 21-23, 28-30, 32, 35-40. Skip 24-27, 31, 33-34. The quiz will only cover chapters in the "Read" list, and will not touch on info in the "Skip" chapters. Of course I'd love it if you read all of them, but I know you have other things to do.

Short Read:

"The Crisis #1" by Thomas Paine, AIAL p 90.


"Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Little Sadie" (Traditional American Ballad)

Google Fu: 

Ishmael ends his chapter, "Cetology," with a hopeless shrug and a suggestion that whales can't actually be effectively classified by any one person. He uses the example of the Cathedral of Cologne, whose construction was unfinished at the time of the writing of Moby-Dick. It was finished later in the 19th century. Find a picture of the Cathedral of Cologne with "the crane still standing on the top of the uncompleted tower" as Melville would have seen it (he saw it in 1849). Then find two more examples of works of art that were begun, halted, and then finished much later, or never finished at all.

Give me one thing, or give me that other thing!

"Speech at the Virginia Convention" by Patrick Henry, AIAL p 95.

This week I want you to focus your note-taking on identifying key quotes in the material you're studying, and writing them in your notebook in quotation marks. This speech has some great quotes in it, including one very famous one. Can you find it? Here is an article with a little more about the speech if you're interested.

As a follow-up on last week, please also insert your own interpretations and reactions in your notes, and figure out a way to distinguish them from the notes you take on the text. You might use a different color, or a highlighter, or a put your own impressions in a box, etc.

Creative Assignment:

Create two illustrations of Ahab: one sitting in contemplation with his pipe, and one stomping around shouting at the crew as he does in the chapter "The Quarter-Deck." Think about how these two Ahabs are different, and ask yourself why Ahab had to toss away his pipe before he could give the speech that announces the revenge mission to the crew.


After reading the chapter, "The Masthead," write a poem in which you pretend you are a sailor taking a watch up in the masthead of a whaling ship. What do you see, smell, hear, and feel, sitting up there? What are you thinking about? Pay special attention to the last two paragraphs of the chapter, and allow yourself to imagine hovering over "Descartian vortices." (And what are those?)

Even though it's "off camera," don't forget about Queequeg and Ishmael's friendship during these chapters...


1. What does Elijah ask Queequeg and Ishmael?
2. With Ahab absent, who is acting captain of the ship on its way out of harbor?
3. Why is it so weird that Bulkington has shipped on the Pequod?
4. In the chapter, "The Lee Shore," who does the shore represent and what does the sea represent?
5. How does Ahab keep himself steady when he's standing on the deck?
6. What does Ahab say to Stubb that upsets the mate?
7. What becomes of Ahab's pipe in chapter 30?
8. What does Ishmael attempt to do in the chapter, "Cetology"?
9. Reading the last paragraph of "Cetology," what is Ishmael's conclusion about the task of classifying whales?
10. What does Ishmael confess about his time in the masthead?
11. What is Starbuck's opinion of Ahab's plan to take the Pequod on a mission of vengeance against Moby Dick?
12. How does Ahab reward the crew's enthusiasm for hunting Moby Dick?
13. Who is the narrator in chapters 37-38?
14. Who is the narrator of chapter 39?
15. In what format does chapter 40 show us the scene aboard the Pequod? What type of literature usually looks like this?
BONUS:  What does Ahab nail to the mast and why?

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