I know it’s been some time but let’s get back to Moby Dick.
While Ishmael and Queequeg were having adventures, they were also looking for a whaling ship. During this time, they met a few other people.
Father Mapple. Ishmael, like Queequeg, decides to get spiritual help before the whaling trip. Mapple is quite verbose, and somewhat predictably his sermon is Jonah and the Whale.
Mrs Hussey. I mention Mrs Hussey because I have the feeling she’ll be the only woman we’ll meet.* She’s the landlady of the inn where they stay. When they first meet her, she barks, “Chowder or clam?” at them, which befuddles them both. I like her practicality. When she thinks Queequeg has committed suicide in her inn, she commissions a “No Suicides” sign.
The Two Captains, Peleg and Bildad, owners of the Pequod. It is from Peleg that Ishmael learns of the loss of Captain Ahab’s leg by the white whale. These guys argue like an old couple. Eventually Ishmael is accepted as a member of the crew. When Queequeg appears with Ishmael, the Quaker captains protest that he must belong to a church. Ishmael makes an impressive speech about Queequeg belonging to the “everlasting First Congregation of this whole worshipping world” which puts them in a good humour. Queequeg (or Quohog as they call him) is in.
The Prophet, Elijah. This weirdo follows Ishmael and Queequeg around making cryptic comments about Ahab. He calls Ahab “Old Thunder.” He’s the equivalent of the “crazy old man” in horror movies. Ishmael tells him to get lost. I get the feeling he should have listened to this guy’s rantings.
Ishmael and Queequeg finally make it onboard the Pequod. Here are a few people that stuck out for me so far.
Mr Starbuck, the chief mate. What a name! I instantly wanted a Pumpkin Latte. Starbuck is another Quaker, a thin man who says, “I will have no man in my boat …who is not afraid of a whale." He’s a careful man.
Mr Stubbs, the second mate and Mr Flask, the third mate. Stubbs, of Cape Cod, is “an easy-going, unfearing man;” Flask acts as if whales “had personally and hereditarily affronted him.”
The harpooners: Tashtego, and Daggoo. The harpooners are assigned to the mates. Queequeg paired with Starbuck. Tashtego is a lean Native man with eyes “Antarctic in their glittering expression.” Daggoo is a buff African man who “voluntarily shipped on board of a whaler, lying in a lonely bay on his native coast” much like Queequeg. All three of the harpooners are accomplished hunters.
Pip. Little Pip is a black boy from Alabama. Ishmael makes some foreboding statements that tell me not to get too attached. (Is this another Rue situation?)
Although the ship’s crew is filled with men from all over the world, only Americans (here I take it to mean white American men) are ever officers. Bummer.
So where is Captain Ahab? Next time we meet the Man Himself.
*I was wrong. Aunt Charity makes a brief appearance.