Herman Melville

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Moby-Dick can help.

Moby-Dick: Chapter 63 Summary & Analysis

Ishmael also states that the harpoon line has not one but two harpoons connected to it, in each boat, and that both harpoons are made to rest in a wooden “crotch” until they are thrown by the harpooneer. The second “iron” or harpoon is used in case the first does not land in the whale’s side; but in any case, one or another of the harpoons usually dangles around the whale and is a danger to any sailors who come in its path. Ishmael states that he introduces these two “irons” here because they will factor later into the narrative.
Just as “the lines” warrant their own chapter, the “crotch” on which the harpoon sits will later relate to Ahab, who, in his final lunge at Moby Dick, will get caught in the lines, hooked around the crotch of the whale-boat, and will be flung from the vessel and hanged “by his own rope.” Ishmael wants there to be no ambiguity about the deadliness of these implements aboard the whale-boat.
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Nature and Man Theme Icon
Race, Fellowship, and Enslavement Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon