Moby Dick


Chapters 102 -116

Chapter 102 Summary

          Ishmael announces his intention to “unbutton” the anatomy of the whale for us “still further” by describing its skeletal structure. He supposes that we will question his elaborate knowledge of cetology and offers a story to enhance his credibility. He describes how he once visited a place called Tranque, where the skeleton of a whale was being used as a temple. He measured the dimensions of the skeleton and had them tattooed upon his arm for later study.

Chapter 103 Summary

Ishmael describes the whale’s dimensions based upon the measurements he got from the skeleton in Tranque. He comments on how massive its bones were yet how still more massive is the living body of the whale, since so much of it is flesh, blood, and muscle. The more than forty vertebrae of the whale, some of which are three feet wide, decrease to the size of a billiard ball near the tail. 

Chapter 104 Summary

Unsatisfied with his efforts so far to accurately convey the enormity and significance of the whale, Ishmael turns now to geology and archeology. In this chapter, Ishmael gives us some facts about the whale’s history as a species which suggest that it has been on the planet for countless centuries.

Chapter 105 Summary

Ishmael considers the question of the whale’s future. Some people believe that the whale is decreasing in size as time goes on; Ishmael disagrees. He also thinks it unlikely that the whale will be hunted to extinction, since they can escape to the poles of the earth, where man does not have the power to follow. He compares whales with buffalo and other animals that have been over-hunted, but finds whales so superior that he believes they cannot suffer the same fate. He also points to the fact that many whales live to be a hundred years old, it is believed, so there are several generations of them alive at one time. Moreover, if the...

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