Moby Dick


Chapters 20 - 31

Chapter 20 Summary

Ishmael and Queequeg carry their possessions to the ship. It takes several days for the whaling vessel to be properly outfitted for the voyage, so they decide to sleep ashore until the ship is ready. Each day, they visit the ship and ask about Captain Ahab. The man never appears, however, and it seems that Peleg and Bildad are the acting captains. Ishmael is told that Ahab is still recovering from the loss of his leg, but that he will show up by and by. Ishmael has strong misgivings about sailing with a captain whom he has never met, but pushes these feelings aside because he is already committed to the voyage.

Chapter 21 Summary

Ishmael and Queequeg arrive at Pequod, which is scheduled to set sail at sunrise. Elijah approaches them again, with mysterious questions about whether they have seen any men board the ship and whether they still intend to board it themselves. Ishmael is irritated with Elijah’s impertinent questions and warnings, and asks the man to leave them alone. Aboard the Pequod, everything is quiet and the vessel appears empty except for one sleeping sailor. When the man awakens, he informs Ishmael that Captain Ahab is on board the ship. Toward sunrise, the rest of the crew arrives and prepares to set sail, though Captain Ahab has still not emerged from his cabin.

Chapter 22 Summary

Around noon on Christmas Day, the Pequod finally departs. Ahab has still not emerged; in his absence, Bildad and Peleg pilot the vessel out of port. Once they have done so, they seem sad to leave. With several last words of advice to the crew, the owners of the vessel finally jump onto a waiting sailboat and return to shore. The Pequod sails out into the open waters of the Atlantic.

Chapter 23 Summary

The sailor steering the whaler is a man named Bulkington, whom Ishmael met earlier in New Bedford. Ishmael writes admiringly of Bulkington’s intrepid spirit, and speculates that the...

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