Herman Melville

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Moby-Dick: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Ishmael muses on his second night in bed with Queequeg. The two spend much of the first part of the evening “chatting and napping” next to one another. Ishmael thinks to himself that to be warm in a bed requires that one feel the cold outside one’s blankets. He therefore says that rich men, with fireplaces in their bedrooms, are “missing” an important part of warmth, which is the proximity of coolness. Ishmael opens his eyes around midnight to see that Queequeg is smoking indoors from his tomahawk-pipe. The two share the pipe, and Ishmael encourages Queequeg to tell him of his upbringing, and how he has found his way to New Bedford.
In this scene, Ishmael and Queequeg once again mimic the behavior of a married couple, although it is not clear, here as before, whether Melville intends this as a sign of their brotherly connection, or as a hint, perhaps, at a more significant and romantic attachment. In either case, the literal “sharing of the pipe” is sufficient to cement a bond between the two men that will remain throughout the novel, even as Ahab’s quest overtakes the action aboard the Pequod.
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