Herman Melville

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Moby-Dick: Chapter 97 Summary & Analysis

Ishmael describes how sailors on other, non-whaling ships often do not have enough oil even to light a very small lamp near their beds—these sailors live lives on the boats of almost “total darkness.” But on a whale-ship, there is so much whale oil that sailors can pick out the finest oil from what comes out of the try-works, and can use it to light themselves as though they used “Aladdin’s lamp.” Ishmael considers this one of the great privileges of sailing on a whale-ship.
Ishmael once again makes an effort to show that whaling, and that shipping on a whaling vessel, is superior to shipping out as a merchant marine, or another kind of sailor. Ishmael clearly delights in reminding himself that whaling is the most noble of man’s occupations on the high seas.
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