Herman Melville

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Moby-Dick: Chapter 107 Summary & Analysis

Ishmael introduces the ship’s carpenter to the reader by saying that he was a man of many skills, for the carpenter of a whaling vessel must be good at all sorts of repairs. And this carpenter, indeed, views life as but a series of carpentry-like tasks—he believes, for example, that fixing a man’s teeth is really no different from fixing the ivory of a whale’s bone. Ishmael also notes that the carpenter has traveled his entire life, and there has an “uncompromised,” almost simple nature. He goes about his work not so much from expertise as from a kind of “intuition” that he feels in his “fingertips.”
The carpenter, like Stubb and Queequeg, is another member of the ship’s crew whose skills are so obvious, so all-encompassing, that Ishmael merely wishes to express them to the reader. The carpenter views the world entirely through the lens of carpentry—he has to a larger extent become his role, and in so doing has found not what you would call joy or peace but an authentic natural existence. You might describe the carpenter as being a carpenter in the same way that a whale is a whale. Both simply are those things, because neither are plagued by the need to interpret, understand, or conquer the world as most of the other humans on board the Pequod are.
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