Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick

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Moby-Dick Chapter 64 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The three whaleboats stick their harpoons in the whale and drag it back to the ship, where the crew then binds the whale with the Pequod, the whale’s head at the ship’s aftward part. Stubb orders the cook, named Fleece (an African American man) to fry up a piece of whale-meat that Daggoo and Tashtego have cut from the whale’s side. While Stubb is eating the whale-steak, he jokes with Fleece, who seems not to understand that Stubb is joking—Stubb asks that Fleece tell the sharks, who are circling and eating the whale tied alongside, to quiet their chewing and stop eating in such a frenzy.
Stubb’s delight in whale-hunting extends even to his dining after the hunt is complete. Ishmael makes Stubb appear, in these instances, somewhat like the “savages” Ishmael has described; Stubb wants to be sure he eats the actual flesh of the whale he has just hunted and killed, perhaps as a way of “consuming the life force” of that whale; perhaps as a simple celebration for a job well done.
Themes
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Stubb continues to joke with Fleece, saying that Fleece doesn’t know how to cook, especially whale-steak, and that Fleece ought to learn to follow orders better if he wishes to go to heaven. Stubb then leaves Fleece and, before going, asks that Fleece cut off and save the whale’s testicles for Stubb’s breakfast the next day. As Stubb walks out from the officer’s eating quarters, Fleece remarks that Stubb, eating the whale-steak, was more like a shark than the real sharks outside the vessel.
Ishmael’s bigotry extends beyond the harpooneers and into his description of Fleece, who does not feature in any other chapters of the novel. Fleece is portrayed as a stock, racialized character from 1800s vaudeville—an African-American man who does not understand the ironies of his white “superior.” Stubb teases Fleece knowing full well that Fleece, in his capacity as cook, will follow any of Stubb’s orders.
Themes
Nature and Man Theme Icon
Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon