Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick

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Moby-Dick Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ishmael and Queequeg disembark in Nantucket and, upon the recommendation of Peter Coffin, proceed to an inn owned by Coffin’s cousin, a man named Hosea Hussey. Ishmael and Queequeg, after some searching, find this inn—the Try Pots—and meet Mrs. Hussey, who is taking care of the inn while Hosea is out. Ishmael finds the picture of two gallows on the inn’s signpost to be unnerving, just as he found Peter Coffin’s name to be a strange foreboding of death. But the two go inside. Mrs. Hussey asks whether the two would like “cod” or “clam,” meaning cod or clam chowder, and the two men order both and eat their chowders with glee, as the soup is exceptionally delicious.
Even Ishmael, who purports to know something about marine culture, is confused by the two soup options, indicating that it is not only Queequeg who has trouble comprehending the customs and etiquette particular to the whaling town of Nantucket. Unlike Coffin, Mrs. Hussey takes a dimmer view of Queequeg’s “strange” activities in the room, as will be evidenced, later, by her unwillingness to let Queequeg continue in his “Ramadan,” or ritual fasting period, in the hotel room. Again Ishmael sees a name as foreboding, but with so many foreboding things can one really trust any of them?
Themes
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After commenting that all the food, all the rooms, indeed even the milk in the Try Pots smells of fish—Nantucket being a fishing town—Ishmael goes with Queequeg upstairs to bed. Mrs. Hussey welcomes them to their room, saying only that she will take Queequeg’s harpoon from him, since once, at the same inn, a man was found dead, stabbed with his harpoon in the night. Ishmael and Queequeg fall quickly asleep.
Similarly, Mrs. Hussey does not want Queequeg to have his customary weapon—which, as above, he uses to shave and likes to keep wit him—since apparently the crowd at the Try Pots can be a rowdy one. This again seems to indicate that Mrs. Hussey does not completely trust this “cannibal” who stays under her roof.
Themes
Limits of Knowledge Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon