Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick

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Moby-Dick Chapter 27 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ishmael goes on to describe the other two mates. Stubb, the second mate, is “calm and cool” in the face of danger—even when the whale is about to strike, as happens later in the narrative. A native of Cape Cod, Stubb is “inseparable” from his pipe, a feature as natural to him “as his nose.” Stubb is joined by Flask, the third mate, a native of Martha’s Vineyard, and a man who seems “personally affronted” by the whale, and whose courage in the fight takes a headlong form different both from Stubb’s coolness and from Starbuck’s reserve.
Stubb’s pipe is a symbol of his ability to “multitask” while whaling. While Starbuck is out to make a living as a whaler, Stubb enjoys whaling so much that he does not feel it necessary to separate it from other activities he likes, including smoking his pipe, Interestingly, as a counterpoint to this, Melville will soon detail how Ahab throws his own pipe overboard—symbolizing Ahab’s own desire to rid himself of enjoyable activities, and to focus entirely on hunting Moby Dick.
Themes
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Ishmael names Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask the three “knights” of the Pequod, under the command of Ahab, and states that each knight takes out a whaling boat, when the whale is being tracked, and brings with him a harpooneer as a “squire,” or assistant, to hook the whale. Starbuck’s harpooneer is Queequeg; Stubb’s is Tashtego, a Native American from Martha’s Vineyard; and Flask’s is Daggoo, an African “savage.” Ishmael says that it is strange and worth remarking upon that Americans appear to provide the “brains” on the Pequod, and on many similar whaling ships, and non-whites the “brawn.” Ishmael calls men like Tashtego and Daggoo “isolatoes,” or men “of their own continent,” and says that another young boy on the ship, a black boy named Pip, is also of the company of the isolatoes, and will be described later in the story.
The harpooneers will be of extreme importance in the novel, but not necessarily for their words—far more for their actions, for the extent to which they aid in the sighting and catching of whales. Queequeg, in particular, is indispensible to the crew of the vessel, and when it appears that Queequeg might die, of a flu toward the end of the novel, the crew not only mourns him but laments that they might not survive without Queequeg as their protector. That these men are described and knights and squires implies both their courage and valor, but also that they are bound to follow their "king"—Ahab.
Themes
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Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon
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