Moby Dick


Chapters 81 - 101

Chapter 81 Summary

The Pequod encounters a German whaling vessel, the Jungfrau. Its crew is in desperate need of oil, as they have not yet managed to catch any whales. Ahab gives the captain some oil and asks about Moby Dick, but the German captain has no information to share. After the Jungfrau captain returns to his ship, a group of whales is sighted and both whaling vessels take off in pursuit. The Pequod catches a slow, warty old whale, but its carcass threatens to sink the ship. The less experienced crew of the Jungfrau pursues a fin-back, which resembles a sperm whale but is impossible to catch because of its speed.

Chapter 82 Summary

          Citing stories from various mythologies and religions, Ishmael examines the noble history of the whaling profession. He considers himself honored to take part in such a glorious tradition. 

Chapter 83 Summary

Ishmael considers the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale, presenting arguments against its credibility as put forth by an experienced Sag Harbor whaleman. According to the whaler, Jonah would have been killed by the acidity of the whale’s gastric juices. Ishmael considers such questioning foolish and irreverent.  

Chapter 84 Summary

Queequeg oils the bottom of his harpoon boat with great attention to increase the boat’s speed in the water. Later, the Pequod spots whales and Tashtego lands his harpoon in one. The harpooned whale continues to flee, and it is necessary for Stubb to use a process called pitchpoling—spearing the whale with a long, sharp lance—in order to complete his capture.

Chapter 85 Summary

Ishmael does not understand the science of a whale’s spout, but he ventures to guess that its purpose is somehow connected to breathing. He proposes that the fountain it produces is not water, but steam, and...

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Essays About Moby Dick