Moby Dick

Close reading of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick Chapter 110 ‘Queequeg in his Coffin’ College

Throughout Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, the character of Queequeg, the New Zealander harpooner, is presented by Melville as possibly the most heroic and honestly good natured of the crew of the novels main setting, the whaling ship Pequod. He forms a healthy relationship based upon respect and affection with the novels narrator, Ishmael, and the concepts and ideas that surround him are a direct and intentional contrast to those surrounding the novels focus and ideological antagonist, the Pequod’s Captain Ahab. Queequeg’s natural heroism and Melville’s idealism of him is exhibited in Queequeg’s stoic relationship with death through Chapter 110, ‘Queequeg in his Coffin’[1], where Queequeg also comes to serve as a vehicle for Melville’s theories on race relations within American society.

The focus of the chapter is Queequeg, who in his first meeting with Ishmael is described as an “abominable savage” [Melville, pg. 20] and throughout the novel is depicted as having an intimidating physicality, and how, gripped by fever, he accepts death in a way that baffles the American crew of the Pequod. Queequeg’s illness is the focus of the reader’s sympathy in that it is brought on by Queequeg and the other harpooners being used for heavy...

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