The Compulsive Reader: Super Serious Moby-Dick Study Questions!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Super Serious Moby-Dick Study Questions!

Hey, everyone! Sorry for the not-so-regular updates on Moby-Dick! My excuses aren’t any good (HB and I spent more time watching GloZell videos than reading Melville), so I won’t even bother, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all you awesome readers/bloggers/authors I met at BEA who told me that you read these Moby-Dick posts (HB and I commend you) and we appreciate your encouragement. Also, no, we don’t recommend listing us as a source for your paper or presentation, unless you’re doing a paper or presentation on how a modern audience receives Moby-Dick, in which case, knock yourself out.

All disclaimers and gratitude aside, here’s what’s going on: We read chapters 26-40 (HB was feeling ambitious). SO MUCH HAPPENS. And because a chapter by chapter breakdown is boring (like, that’s totally what SparkNotes is for*), I decided to go with a tried and true method teachers and professors everywhere inflict upon their new English students to help force them to think critically.

I wrote study questions for HB!

TCR: What’s REALLY wrong with Captain Ahab?

HB: You’re assuming that there is actually something wrong with the good old captain. Come on, he got his leg bitten off by a whale! Wouldn’t you feel the need for a little revenge and closure? Maybe Captain Ahab is the most sane out of everyone onboard the Pequod. Think about it...

TCR: Out of all of the whales that Ishmael/Melville (because let’s be honest, it seems like Melville forgot he was supposed to be writing prose here) outlines in chapter 32, which one is your favorite?

HB: I personally favor the Algerine Porpoise (mostly because Melville only talked about this creature for six sentences). This guy is described as being a “pirate,” and a “savage.” Once provoked he will stand up to a shark and is rarely captured. This creature’s got spunk and he’s a mystery. He remains wild, something that cannot be captured and contained.

TCR: Queequeg vs. Starbuck—who wins?

HB: With a name like Starbuck, Queequeg doesn’t stand a chance. Enough said.

TCR: What are your favorite words from chapters 26-40?

HB: My four favorite words:

Unicornism—having the features of a unicorn??
Soliloquised—this word just sounds nice
Descried—I’m guessing this means to cry out
Specksynder—not found in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) but according to Melville a Specksynder is a harpooner

TCR: In your opinion, how important is a chapter about the dining habits of the crew to the overall impact novel?

HB: This chapter could actually be very significant to the novel. It shows us that as a whaling vessel, the Pequod is a very organized ship. There are rules and specific ways that everything is done. This could be a reflection of Captain Ahab himself. If so than he is methodic and orderly man. It will be interesting to see if the way the ship is run becomes increasingly disorganized the more that Ahab’s obsession for the white whale becomes openly apparent. Other than that, I think that Melville was a little bit obsessed with other people’s eating habits.

Okay, that's really all we got for now. We'll keep chugging along...

*It should be noted that neither HB nor I condone using SparkNotes in lieu of ACTUALLY READING the text. That’s not cool. But if you read it, scratch your head, read it again, consult your dictionary, and THEN go to SparkNotes, there’s no judgment here.


Unknown said...

I think the three of us need to read a classic piece together. Also HB's responses made her sound like a freaking professor, which she totally could be.. ANYWAYS, what I mean to say is Tirzah's questions sound like something I would say when reading and HB sounds well I want more of her writing and knowledge. Future tutor of mine... I think so!

Anyways I can not even begin to explain how much I adore these posts Tirzah!! Oh and HB I am not a creeper... well that one time I took that pic of Tirzah's head on the plane and she called me a creeper, but I really don't think so. Well maybe.


Mary Preston said...

I don't know if I'm up for super-serious tonight, especially since I burst out laughing at the first question.

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