What a book!Remains experimental in style today after over a century and a half of seeing the light!
Ishmael, the narrator, comes across as a very reflective, thoughtful person who has done a lot of research in the world of whaling and even decided to experience it first hand, and it is this experience that makes up the story of Moby-Dick.
The whole story could be read from the perspective of the civil vs the savage. On the superficial level, the savage is Quick Quag with his harpoon, ugly tatoo and very little words forming a brotherhood bond with Ishmael, the civil, the thinker, the voice.Although Ishmael seems impressed with Quick Quag’s soft-heartedness, bravery and generosity, he doesn’t hesitate to refer to him as a savage when he takes his money or pagan after becoming his brother. Ishmael also redicules Quick Quag’s religion and fasting, for Ishmael every man is entitled to their own belief, however not Quick Quag whose religion is nonsensical. Ishmael also does not seem very affected when his brother the savage is believed to be dying and the carpenter even gets his coffin ready for him.
On another level, the civil is the whale who is described in all sorts of majestic words and Ishmael goes through a lot of researching trouble to prove the regality of whales in general and Moby Dick in Particular. The savage is the whaler in general and Ahab, the captain, in particular. Like Quick Quag, Ahab is strong-willed and brave to a level of recklessness and like Quick Quag he is ridiculed in physical appearance, he is old, wrinkly with an ivory stub for a leg, which gets broken on various occasions to serve for further ridicule.The chase and the strife between Ahab and Moby Dick is catharsisistic in the story, for they too are bonded till death. In the end, the civil, the whale, Moby Dick prevails over Ahab, his ship and his crew including Quick Quag, and Ishmael the other civil survives to tell the story.
Ishmael’s name also stands for the civil and the savage. For Ishmael is the son of Abraham, the man, the prophet, the wise, the civil on one hand and on the other he is also the son of Hajra, the woman, the slave, the abandoned, the savage.