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Queequeg is the best friend every young person wishes they had. He is wise, strong, competent, generous, protective, humble, accepting, and nonjudgmental. Ishmaels’ relationship with him provides a highly effective lesson in cross-cultural appreciation. Because Ishmael starts with the same prejudices toward a distinctly other character that students are apt to hold, as well as the ideological principles that most people at least think they ascribe to, “a man can be honest in any sort of skin,” “ignorance is the parent of fear” (Ch. 3), his lesson in cultural tolerance proceeds quickly with theirs as both narrator and readers learn how to read the human text of Queequeg. As Queequeg is understood students experience the liberating expansion of their own sense of relations to others. Ishmael differentiates between whales that are the possession of those who are fast to them and whales that remain “fair game” for anyone who can catch them. Claiming that those two whaling principles demonstrate the “fundamentals of all human jurisprudence.” He uses them to critique social inequities and global imperialism, and ends the chapter 89 by asking “What are all men’s minds and opinions but Loose-Fish?” and them interrogating the reader: “And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?” In doing so, he points out how people are already possessed by certain ideologies and discursive formations and yet still fair game to be captured by new ideologies and ways of seeing. The reader can be held in thrall by Melville’ powerful rhetorical arguments, but these very arguments can also act to free us from previously held beliefs and open the reader up to new ways of thinking, which, in turn, can similarly hold as fast. Ishmael is a Loose-Fish because he adopted new beliefs through his growth from atheist (“faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs”- Ch. 7) to doubter (“doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some heavenly…neither believer nor infidel”-Ch....
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