Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick

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Steelkilt Character Analysis

A gifted sailor from the area of the United States around Lake Erie, Steelkilt leads a mutiny on the ship the Town-Ho that nearly succeeds, until it is interrupted by the presence of Moby Dick. Steelkilt later escapes the ship and sails back to Europe, without being punished for his treason.

Steelkilt Quotes in Moby-Dick

The Moby-Dick quotes below are all either spoken by Steelkilt or refer to Steelkilt. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Limits of Knowledge Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Moby-Dick published in 2002.
Chapter 54 Quotes

So help me Heaven, and on my honor the story I have told ye, gentlemen, is in substance and its great items, true. I know it to be true; it happened on this ball; I trod the ship . . . I have seen and talked with Steelkilt since the death of Radney.

Related Characters: Ishmael (speaker), Steelkilt, Radney
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:

This is an important passage in the novel, because it indicates the time in which Ishmael is currently narrating the tale, and hints at Ishmael's fate. After all, we now know that, at this point, Ishmael must survive the voyage of the Pequod to find Moby-Dick - for how else would Ishmael be able to relate to the reader something that happens after Ishmael has been on that boat with Ahab and his crew?

The function of time in Moby-Dick, therefore, is highlighted in this scene. Ishmael is a conduit for the reader - he siphons off the story of Ahab and his men and presents it to the person holding the novel in his or her hands. But Ishmael also seems not to be bound by certain physical considerations, as others in the novel are - he does not, in short, go down with the ship. He is free to tell his tales to future generations - something not possible for Ahab or Starbuck. 

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Steelkilt Character Timeline in Moby-Dick

The timeline below shows where the character Steelkilt appears in Moby-Dick. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 54: The Town-Ho’s Story
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Nature and Man Theme Icon
Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon
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...the Town-Ho approached a suitable harbor in which to repair the hull. One man, named Steelkilt, was in Ishmael’s telling the most noble, most handsome, and finest sailor of the Town-Ho—a... (full context)
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Nature and Man Theme Icon
Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon
Thus, one day, when Steelkilt was working the bilge pump with other sailors, Radney came to him and ordered him... (full context)
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Nature and Man Theme Icon
Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Steelkilt and the two other canallers manage to bring several other crew members to their aid,... (full context)
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Nature and Man Theme Icon
Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Finally, Steelkilt tells the two canallers that he is going to burst out of the hold the... (full context)
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Nature and Man Theme Icon
Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon
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Religion Theme Icon
The captain, in a moment of mercy, however, then allows the canallers and Steelkilt to work their original jobs on the vessel, in the hopes that the mutiny has... (full context)
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Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon
Steelkilt goes out on a whale-boat with Radney, who is tossed from the small boat once... (full context)
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Nature and Man Theme Icon
Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Ishmael closes out his story by stating that the captain of the Town-Ho allowed Steelkilt and the other mutineers to leave the boat, since he was powerless to stop them... (full context)