If you’ve read around here for any length of time, surely you guessed I’d be touching on the next book? Moby Dick, by Herman Melville is still one of my all-time favorite stories. We call my dad “Ahab” for a reason, you know.
Plumbing the depths- whether of the ocean, a whale, or the human psyche – is what this story was all about, for me. I can’t remember if I devoured this book in high school or college, but it had me hook, line, and sinker! And that opening line is iconic, “Call me Ishmael…” (Although, that line doesn’t come until after the first two “Introductory” chapters.)
The character names were fascinating. Upon moving to New England after college, I began learning the backstory on some of Melville’s name choices. The name of the boat, Pequod, for example, became a sad revelation to me.
This book also confirmed, in my mind, that there are limits to human knowledge. You can only see so far into the ocean. You can only understand what you can see and hear about a person, but never really the whole of their heart.
And then, we only know what we think we do.
One of my favorite quotes, though, is this:
“See how elastic our prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them.”
Having to share a room at an inn with a stranger, a foreign-stranger with tattoos every which way, no less, Ishmael’s initial prejudice towards Queequeg changes as he comes to know this loyal and generous man. Let’s just forget that he was a former cannibal, kay?
I live, though, as if I were second mate, Stubb, who said:
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
That reminds me of a Proverb in the Bible:
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
May it ever be true of me!
As I neared the end of Moby Dick and Ahab’s pending death became obvious, I felt compassion for him. I identified with this man’s willingness to throw everything he was into what he deemed important. Unfortunately, that included the crew aboard his boat.
I know how that goes.
Crusty captain seeks vengeance on ever elusive white whale to the detriment of all that go with him.
He did as humans do: we make mistakes.
And we pick up the pieces as we move along from them.
Sometimes, in the form of others.
I can honestly say I didn’t think I’d have all that much to say about each of these books. I’m going funny tomorrow. Click here to check out the Write 31 Days Challenge. Click the button below to see all of the posts in my Best Books Ever series.