Struggles about Binx and the Search

April 10, 2013

Throughout the course of reading the novel, I have been a critic of Binx and noted the contradiction of how Binx resists everydayness, yet also loves everyday things, i.e. money-making and his conventional job.  If Binx is searching for a way to transcend and go past the shroud of everydayness, why does he experience “a source of satisfaction” to earn money?  Why does the novel portray Binx as contradictory character?  Is he being a hypocrite or is he confused?  Will Binx’s search lead him towards seeing how he himself is sunk into everydayness?  Are everydayness and being ordinary  bad things or are they actually more benevolent?  These are some of the questions that I will struggle with during my blog post.

Perhaps Binx is just a hypocrite who can easily accuse others of being sunk into everydayness, but can’t see his own shortcomings.  Binx could also be just complicated individual whose conflicting actions indicate another side to him.  Binx expresses contempt for those sunk into everydayness, calls everydayness the enemy, and tries to resist it.  Yet, Binx himself loves money and movies, two artificial aspects of everyday life.  As a reader, I feel Binx loses his credibility as a narrator since I can’t trust what he says.  Why would the novel make Binx a hypocrite and unreliable narrator?

Maybe there is a point that Binx acts in a contradictory manner.  Maybe by finally achieving his search, Binx realizes that everydayness is not the enemy he thinks it is and that everydayness is the only tangible, real thing to existence.  Perhaps the main point of the story is to glorify the everydayness and ordinary.

Perhaps in addition to expressing existential ideas, the book might be furthering logical empiricism, the idea that only direct observation and use of the senses is the only way to confront philosophical problems such as the existence of God or our place in the universe.  Since no one can definitively prove the answers to these complex questions, maybe Binx will find nothing from his search and just appreciate the simple power of the ordinary.

Percy does seem to give a flattering portrayal of the ordinary by describing Binx’s mother as “spangled in rainbows.”  Perhaps Percy is implying that there a divinity in everyday life and in mundane objects.  Early in the novel, Binx does say that “there is much to be said for giving up such grand ambitions and living the most ordinary life imaginable.”

Maybe the novel intends to convey that even though we might search for grand, monumental meaning in our lives, we should prepare to expect that our lives or everydayness or the minutiae of life is all there is.  Binx does say that all signs in the world, that might point to a grand meaning of life I presume, make no difference at all.

But if Binx’s search yields nothing in return, does that offer an optimistic or pessimistic view of life?  Perhaps it would be optimistic.  Early on in the reading, I did’t think everydayness to be too bad of thing.  Personally, I perceived everydayness to possibly be synonymous with existence.  Wouldn’t it be a good thing to be sunk into everydayness and existence, as they live their lives.

 

Print Friendly

Funny or Serious?

March 13, 2013

I have enjoyed reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, but I have struggled with how the play has very funny, comedic scenes, yet also has loads of deep, profound musings about grand subjects.  With all the funny banter between the two main characters, there are many statements regarding subjects like control-vs.-freedom, death, language, and madness, to name a few.  Why does Stoppard include the humor with all the deep thematic material?  Is the play more of a comedy or a tragedy?  Is the play meant to be interpreted as a parody of Hamlet or philosophical companion that delves into the same grand subjects as Hamlet does?

The play is told from the perspective of Guildenstern, a very thoughtful, articulate thinker, and Rosencrantz, a bumbling individual who provides a foil to his partner.  The play establishes a humorous contrast between the two characters who realize that they are way out of their comfort zone when they enter the court of Claudius.  Stoppard creates an ironic and funny atmosphere, but based on the title and what we know from Hamlet, there is a tragic end in store for the two main characters.  In spite of the humor, the looming death of the characters hangs ominously in my mind.

If the play is a tragedy, perhaps it is not a tragedy like Hamlet was.  Whereas Hamlet’s end was spurred on by his own tragic flaws and possible madness, Ros and Guil–for short–seem to destined for death not by their own flaws but by the machinations and schemes of others.  Perhaps Ros and Guil represent the “little people” of the world, or people who have no control over their lives.  Guil remarks how “wheels have been set in motion, and they have their own pace to which we are…condemned.”  Guil and Ros maybe simply represent pawns who are carelessly used by those power like Claudius.

Perhaps the humor in the play is supposed to be a kind of dark humor.  Maybe Stoppard intends for the audience to laugh at how little control we have over our lives. One has little control over the way a coin falls or how he is going to be named.

But maybe the play is more optimistic about humans.  Stoppard does give Ros and Guil profound insights about thematic subjects.  Conflicting with his earlier actions as a buffoon, Ros has a long, eloquent speech about death.  Maybe Stoppard intends to show even a bumbling, common-person like Ros can contribute to in trying to solve the mysteries of our existence.  Perhaps Stoppard suggests that everyone has a high level of intelligence, self-worth, and ability to contemplate about existence.

Since the play has so much humor in it, it is taking these grand subjects seriously or is it just mocking them?  When Ros has his “life in a box” speech, the seriousness and depth of his speech might be reduced by the humorous way he delivers his speech.

Perhaps the play is supposed to be a synthesis or combination of tragedy and comedy.  Maybe Stoppard is trying to mirror real life in his play.  Life is full of laughter and enjoyment but inevitably ends in death just like Ros and Guil’s time in the play.

Print Friendly

Is Septimus a noble character?

January 29, 2013

Throughout the course of the novel, I have struggled with whether Septimus’s actions have been somewhat noble or whether they have been the crazed actions of a lunatic.  There are some descriptions of Septimus that make me wonder whether he is more than his mad exterior.  Maybe apart from his own illusions, Septimus might possibly be like a Jesus-figure, which is an idea we mentioned in class.  Septimus almost gets described as a prophet-like figure, especially when he receives a “revelation” from Evans, his dead military commander.  This ethereal vision could possibly indicate that Septimus is mad or that he does have an ability to transcend all humanity.

Septimus also gets frequently described as a scapegoat who is condemned for death by the rest of society that commands Septimus to kill himself for their own sakes.  It seems somewhat similar to Jesus and how he was condemned to death and was killed so that the sins of others could be forgiven.   So if Septimus did kill himself, would that be a noble act that would help the rest of humanity?  Or would it be a sign of Septimus giving up and capitulating to either mankind’s imposition on him or his own madness?

I think that perhaps there might be some sinister reasons for humanity wanting Septimus to kill himself.  Maybe since Septimus is not yielding to “the supreme advantages of a sense of proportion,” people want Septimus to kill himself because he is not conforming to the typical convention of sanity.  I get the feeling that Septimus has some disdain for the idea of proportion and that he will not give up easily to it.  Standing up against an oppressive sense of proportion that threatens to remove his own individuality seems like a pretty honorable thing to do.

Then, I get back to my struggle over whether Septimus’s resistance against proportion is a noble act or just a manifestation of chaos trying to upset the balance of society.  Should madness like Septimus’s be purged from society?  Is it a threat to the stability of an orderly world?  Perhaps, Septimus’s condition is not for humans to judge and maybe that’s why he has this other-worldly quality about him.  Maybe like Darl from As I Lay Dying, Septimus belongs to another place and that “this world is not his world; this life his life.”

In fact, I find a lot of similarities between Darl and Septimus.  Although at first glance both characters seem to be utterly crazy, there might some be some nobility in their actions.  Darl might have set the barn on fire to give his mother an honorable burial and to save her from the indignity of rotting out in the open.  Both Darl and Septimus do possess this aura of being equitable to a Jesus-savior figure.

Perhaps Woolf is just making the line between madness and sanity very blurry.  Maybe there is a justification for acting mad according to society’s standards.  Maybe someone can deliberately venture out into the gray area that society would label as “out of proportion.”

Print Friendly

Musings about Cash

January 9, 2013

Of all the characters in the novel so far, I find Cash the most intriguing, and I struggle to realize his significance.  I wonder if there is any significance about his coffin-making, about Addie calling out his name with her last words, and about the the grim description of his appearance when Addie died.

Throughout the novel, Cash has been creating the coffin.  All the characters, in spite of having different points of view, have recognized Cash’s sawing and heard his adze chucking.  In class, we have speculated that Cash might be the one objective, wholly real thing that unites all of the different subjective points of view.  We equated the sawing to an anchor that stabilizes that subjectiveness of the novel.

Being fairly similar to what Tony said about the sawing being foreshadowing of death, I feel that perhaps the sawing might be a reminder of the ubiquity of death.  Maybe Faulkner includes a mention of Cash’s sawing in many chapters to convey the sense that death is always lurking around the corner, and it is in the back of the mind of everyone.  No matter whose perspective is narrating the novel, they can’t escape the persistent sound of the coffin-making.

Why is Cash associated with such a grim task in the novel?  Is his role in the novel only that of a harbinger of death?  There have been only two chapters (I think) that are from Cash’s perspective.  They are very short chapters: one is about the technical details of coffin-making and the other is abruptly cut off.  Is there a reason Cash has been limited in terms of character development?

I also struggle with why Addie called out Cash’s name on her deathbed in a strong, vigorous last breath.  Of all the characters why would she choose to call out Cash?  Jewel is the one who she treated the most favorable and Darl is one showed the most affection to her.  Ignoring Dewey Dell, Addie just intently stares at Cash and then dies immediately afterward.  Was Addie expressing a final feeling of defiance towards death?

I also struggled over the somewhat creepy description of Cash when Addie calls him out.  A “gaunt face” emerges on Cash as his sawing illuminated his own motions and elicited a final reaction from Addie.  But then that face disappears right before Addie dies.  I keep get getting a grim vibe from exchange, but I don’t know if there is something more sentimental intended for the scene.  Was Faulkner trying to portray Cash in an unpleasant depiction or was he trying to show Cash as compassionate and saddened by his mom’s death?

Maybe there is another reason for Cash’s role as the family’s carpenter.  I am going to spitball here, but perhaps Faulkner is making biblical allusion to Jesus whom many believed to have carpentry skills.  Maybe Cash is like a Christ-like figure.  Perhaps Addie looks to Cash because her death is a salvation from a hard life   Perhaps death was an easy out for Addie who was hiding something and acting with deceit around  Jewel.  On pg. 130, Darl mentions that Addie hated herself because of her deceitful interactions with Jewel and that the lie was draining her out emotionally and taking a great toll on her.  When Addie dies, her lie and suffering will ultimately end, and she doesn’t have to tell Jewel whatever truth she was hiding.

Print Friendly

Names and Identity

December 1, 2012

While reading Song of Solomon, I have been struck by how peculiar and unconventional the names of the characters are.  Many characters get their names or nicknames through clerical errors, haphazard selections of words from the Bible, or just because one’s mother is breast-feeding him at the time.  I struggle with how much the name of a character corresponds with their identity if it even does at all.  By making the process of naming so random and whimsy, what is Morrison trying to say about identity?  Is a name even important to someone’s identity?  Should a person always be governed by the connotations of their name?

Maybe through the character Pilate, Morrison says that one doesn’t have to be weighed down by a name.  Pilate’s name comes from Pontius Pilate the biblical character who allowed Jesus’s crucifixion.  By all accounts, the name appears to be a very unfortunate name that would always have negative connotations to it.  Pilate’s life does mirror the unlucky name in some ways.  She lives as an outcast from her brother in a very poor area of town.  Her brother hangs out with the beach crowd, but Pilate lives in the slums working in a questionable role as a bootlegger.  In complete contrast to her name, Pilate has a very noble and compassionate character.  Pilate is not motivated by money like her brother.  She also provided protection for Ruth when Macon tried to kill Milkman in her womb.

So why does Morrison have a noble character like Pilate burdened with an extremely unfortunate name?  Perhaps, Morrison is creating the irony that people can be totally opposite from their names.  With a harsh exterior and death invoking name, Pilate doesn’t appear to be the nicest character.  But maybe she is more than her name suggests for she has an “alien’s compassion for troubled people.”

Milkman is another character with unusual name.  I struggled over whether Morrison is trying to convey anything Milkman’s unique name.  Perhaps, the dual nature of Milkman’s name mirrors the crisis he experiences in his life. Milkman’s real name is Macon Dead III, a name from his father’s side.  The name Milkman comes from when Freddie saw his mother nursing him.  Maybe the way Macon Dead II and Ruth each have a stake in Milkman’s name is indicative of how they each are fighting over control of Milkman’s life.  Milkman is torn by his father and mother.  His father wants him to be his business heir, and his mother views him as evidence of her last sexual encounter.

Milkman feels like he doesn’t control his life.  He feels his mother, father, and Guitar are all trying to make decisions for him.  Perhaps, Morrison makes the process of naming out of a character’s control equitable to how little someone can control their life and the people around it.  Milkman cannot control his name, cannot control how dysfunctional his family is, cannot control the irrational Hagar, and cannot control Guitar’s “Seven Day” killing plan.  There are so many things Milkman cannot control and perhaps that it is why Milkman is so frustrated during his early adulthood.  Perhaps Morrison will end this coming-of-age story with Milkman accepting he can’t control everything and realizing these weird dysfunctions are all part of life.

 

Print Friendly

“Mirror” Struggles

November 6, 2012

Does the mirror always retain it’s independence or does it change its nature to whenever it reflects someone?  The mirror appears to have it’s own sentience which makes it act like a neutral observer of all events.  But when it reflects the image of someone, does it become an extension of that person’s being? The mirror declares that “Whatever I see I swallow immediately.”  Does the mirror relinquish it’s aloof state of being a separate entity or is just a projection of the reflected person?

I would suppose the mirror always maintains it’s state of independence.   The mirror does say that “I have no preconceptions.”  So it the mirror a symbol representing purity that makes no judgements based on appearance.  We do live in superficial world where good looks are especially beneficial.  But can the mirror look beyond the outside of a person and see into their soul?

How can the mirror judge the value of a person based solely on appearance?  I suppose that it won’t discriminate against an extremely ugly person and automatically assume the person has poor character.  But can the mirror assess the character of beautiful person who might have a rotten soul?  The mirror might be an unbiased judge of a person, but I don’t know if it can really gauge a person’s character?

Why does Plath personify the mirror and reflection on the lake as if they are the same person sharing the same the conscious?  Are all reflections part of the same universal entity?  The mirror is in the form of a typical bedroom mirror in the first stanza, but in the second stanza the mirror is in the form of a lake.

Plath also personifies the mirror give it human characteristics.  For example, the mirror says “Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.”  A real mirror can’t meditate and focus its attention on something.  Only humans have the ability to critically analyze an object.

So why does Plath impart this human consciousness to the mirror?  Could the mirror represent some all-knowing, omniscient being like a god-figure?  Perhaps this could be plausible.  The mirror is able to take many forms and is able to reflect humans without prejudice.

I am struggling over the very end of the poem.  Is the visage of the young girl being drowned in the lake because the girl visited the lake so many times during her youth?  Did she ingrain the lake with that image?  And is the reflection of the old woman rising from the depths of the lake an accurate reflection of the aged girl?

Why is the image of the old woman referred to as a terrible fish?  Is this because aging is sad, unavoidable process that ultimately leads to death?  I sense a tone of great somberness and despair at the end of the poem.  Is the poem saying how cruel aging and death can be to a young girl? But maybe it isn’t “cruel, only truthful.”  The mirror maybe just shows the grim but true realities of life.

 

Print Friendly

Struggles about Madness and Revenge

October 26, 2012

I am struggling about ideas of madness and revenge.  While reading Hamlet, I was struck by how madness is prevalent in Hamlet’s situation and in Ahab’s in Moby-Dick.  Are there any similarities between the two characters? I suppose there are a few.  They both are bound to fulfill a goal of revenge.  Ahab wants to avenge the loss of leg by Moby Dick and Hamlet wants to avenge the murder of his father by Claudius.  The characters also appear to be deeply maddened.

But are they really mad?  In the chapter right before the final chase, Ahab expresses misgivings about his life in a last bout of rational behavior.  Hamlet says he is only like an actor pretending to be mad.  With Hamlets intense passion for the theater, that scenario is very plausible.  But could someone who is really mad conduct a convoluted, grand scheme for revenge like Hamlet?  Wouldn’t a plan for revenge require a coherent mind in order to plot the many intricate details?  Hamlet does so much plotting and scheming he appears to be entirely in control of his actions.  Yet, how could a rational person kill Polonius with any hesitation?

Shakespeare, and Melville, masterfully blur the line between rationality and madness so well that it is hard to separate the two.  Another thing, why does someone always go crazy while they conduct their scheme for revenge?  Does someone become so invested in his plan for revenge that he loses sight of  the importance of all other things?  Is Hamlet’s “revenge-madness” different from Othello’s “love madness” or the murderer’s “guilt madness” from “The Tell-Tale Heart?”  Perhaps out of all those feelings revenge requires the most time and commitment.  Revenge seems to involve a very intricate plot, so perhaps the grand magnitude of the scheme for revenge is enough to push someone over the edge.

Since we know the play is called The Tragedy of Hamlet, we can assume  that Hamlet will probably die.  With Hamlet and Ahab, it seems that their missions of revenge are destined to fail.  Why does revenge have to result in the death of the character?  Why do most revenge plots fail?  Is revenge necessarily a bad thing and can it result in a happy ending?  These the many questions I have about revenge.  Perhaps you can spin revenge into a noble endeavor.

If someone murdered your father, wouldn’t it be a good thing to punish the murderer like Hamlet?  Hamlet’s motives for revenge aren’t petty because he is trying to avenge his dearly beloved father.  Hamlet is just a son trying bring his corrupt uncle to justice.  I suppose if you circumvent society’s laws chaos will ultimately ensue, but isn’t Hamlet’s quest somewhat noble?  Isn’t Laertes’ quest to avenge his murdered father somewhat noble?  So is Hamlet and Laertes’ brand of Wild West justice a virtuous act or it is sinister and evil?

I suppose the answer is ambiguous just like whether Hamlet is actually crazy or not.  If Hamlet is doing a good thing, why couldn’t the play have Hamlet successfully complete his revenge and survive through the end?  I just think Hamlet gets unfairly treated for wanting to ensure justice for his father.

 

Print Friendly

Why does Emma’s father not like marriage?

October 4, 2012

As I have been reading Emma, I have been struggling with why Emma’s father has such a disdain for marriage.  When Miss Taylor gets married at the beginning of the novel, Mr. Woodhouse laments for her constantly saying, “Poor Miss Taylor.”  Mr. Woodhouse additionally mentions how surprised he was to find out that his daughter Isabella got married.   Mr. Woodhouse also complains how the marriage of Isabella has relocated her, in his opinion, too far away from home.  Mr. Woodhouse also experiences some tension with Isabella’s husband John.

I wondered why Austen makes Mr. Woodhouse be so uncomfortable with the concept of marriage.   I imagine that England during the Regency period would be a typical patriarchal society where the fathers would want to marry their daughters off.  Yet, Mr. Woodhouse doesn’t not fit this mold.  Marriage, just like wedding cake, just doesn’t agree with him.

Again, I wonder why marriage doesn’t sit well with Mr. Woodhouse.  Here is a line that might possibly offer an explanation: “There is something  so shocking about in a child being taken away from his parents and natural home!”  Although in the context the line was referring to Frank Churchill, perhaps the line can be applied generally to all women who are taken away from their parents by marriage.  In some instances of marriages, daughters would be traded like prized possessions from fathers to husbands.  The fathers would hand over the responsibility of caring and protecting of their daughters to the husbands.  Does Mr. Woodhouse have trouble shifting that responsibility to someone else?  He does have a very protective, overbearing nature in regards to his daughters.

So does Mr. Woodhouse not like marriage because of a strong paternal attachment to his children?  Does Austen imply that a bond between a parent and child is more sacred than the bond between husband and wife?  A parent and child are linked biologically and by a deep feeling of love, whereas a husband and wife only experience a very intimate form of love.  Which relationship then is more important in society?  I don’t really know.  In our day and age, you only live about eighteen years with a parent, although the time was probably less in the Regency period.  The maximum you could live with a spouse is about sixty years.  The time with a parent pales in comparison to the time you could spend with a spouse.  Although you learn everything from your parents, you devote most of your life to someone you’re not even related to.  So which relationship would lead to more happiness?

Maybe it is the parent-child relationships. There are two prominent parent-child relationships in the text: Mr. Woodhouse and Emma and Mrs. Bates and Miss Bates.  In both cases, the daughters live much longer than usual with their parents.  Both women experience happy lives and enjoy moderate success.  Miss Bates is neither extremely beautiful nor intelligent, but “she was a happy woman.”

Does Austen suggest that marriage is not a prerequisite for a happy, fulfilling life?  Perhaps she is by having Emma and Miss Bates lead enjoyable, unmarried lives.

 

Print Friendly

What does Orsino’s character say about love?

September 13, 2012

Going into the reading of Twelfth Night, I was expecting to see a lot of the character Orsino.  But after the completion of the play, I was asking myself where the Duke was for the majority of the story.  I counted the total number of scenes, and out of a total of eighteen, Orsino appeared in only four scenes.  Is the character of Orsino not important?  Is there a reason he is absent for most of the play?  Does his absence convey anything about the nature of love?  What does Orsino’s character suggest about love if anything?

These were a handful of things I was struggling with as I tried to understand the Duke’s character.

Well, I guess he is not absent because he is unimportant to the text.  It is his longing for Olivia that causes Viola, disguised as Cesario, to go woo her.  Orsino isn’t some minor character like Fabian or the ship captain.  He is a major part of the love triangle going on between Olivia and Viola.

Whenever Orsino does appear in the text, he broods about his heartache like a whiny teenager.  Orsino’s mood puts a damper on all of the comedy in the play.       He seems lukewarm to the Fool’s jokes and witty wordplays and even mentions the possibility of killing Olivia so no one else can have her.  Is there a reason Shakespeare confines Orsino to a few brooding scenes?

I think there might be a parallel between the Duke and Malvolio, another party-pooper.  Although by different circumstances, both develop an infatuation with Olivia.  But neither gets with Olivia in the end.  Orsino and Malvolio spend the much of the time feeling sorry for themselves.  Orsino complains about his heartache, and Malvolio goes on and on about how he is the most abused man of all time.

Maybe Shakespeare shows that these two characters are not in love, but instead are as Olivia puts, “sick in self-love.”  The two characters care more about wallowing in self-pity than embracing true love.  Both characters have a lot of pride, and each thinks very highly upon himself.  Orsino is the noble, powerful Duke of Illyria.  Malvolio is the head steward of Olivia’s household.

Is Shakespeare saying that a large ego and love are not able to be compatible with one another?  When you’re in love, do you have to willing to recognize that you’re not all-powerful?  Maybe when you’re in love, you have to be willing to be knocked down a few notches and face some heartache.  But I guess Orsino an Malvolio find that hard because of their super-inflated opinions of themselves.  Maybe humility and love are the better companions.

Maybe it’s not the Duke’s great pride but his ignorance that blocks him from achieving love.  Malvolio does say that “there is no darkness but ignorance.”  Maybe Orsino is plagued throughout the story because he is ignorant of the fact that Olivia doesn’t love him.  Blinded with the idea that he still has a chance with Olivia, Orsino is committed to wooing Olivia.  Orsino can’t even perceive Viola’s subtle references to her love for him.

Maybe you can’t control love and try to force someone to love you.  Maybe that is the ultimate idea about love.  Perhaps, love is uncontrollable.  I guess you just have to be a little flexible and not rigid like the Duke and Malvolio in order to get the most out of love.

Print Friendly

The Coffin Sandwich

August 26, 2012

 

Moby Dick

Melville starts off the first chapter of Moby-Dick with Ishmael pausing in front of coffin warehouses.  Then the coffin makes it’s final appearance in the epilogue acting as a life-buoy to save Ishmael’s life.  I wondered why Melville sandwiched the massive bulk of Moby-Dick between the images of two coffins.  Well, maybe he is just reminding us of the ubiquitousness of death, that death is always lurking around the corner.  You can never escape the scary shroud of death.

 

Whereas the coffins are the thin buns, the thick meat of the coffin sandwich is the fat, white blubber of Moby Dick.  Moby Dick is described as a monster hiding beneath the waves.  According to the old sea tales of sailors, the whale does nothing but wreak havoc and destruction.  The whale is ubiquitous like death and is seemingly unconquerable much like death.  Death is probably the one thing in life that no man can eventually overcome.  Moby Dick appears to be an appropriate representation for death along the course of the novel.

 

So the quest for Moby Dick will bring many of the sailors very close to death.  In life, one is force to contemplate his own death and realize that it is inevitable and sure to happen.  For many people, this is an extremely difficult and traumatic thing to do.  The thought of dying elicits various responses from different people, as each person deals with the concept in their own way.  I wondered how characters in Moby-Dick reacted to the thought of their own demise.

 

In the first chapter, Ishmael finds himself becoming very grim, and he realizes that he involuntarily stops before coffin warehouses and follows funeral processions.  Seeing death firsthand, Ishmael is spurred to action and to enlist on a whaling vessel.  Instead of becoming distraught about death, Ishmael heads to the ocean to enjoy the action and thrill of life.

 

Along the way, Ishmael meets Queequeq at the Spouter Inn whose landlord’s name is Coffin.  The ominous and foreboding name of the proprietor suggests that Ishmael and Queequeg’s relationship will be mired in death.  This warning becomes true as the two enlist on the voyage to confront the symbol of death, Moby Dick.

 

In fact, Ishmael and Queequeg’s bond grows the strongest when they tied together by the monkey rope, a dangerous situation.  Each man is responsible for the safety of the other, and in the face of possibly dying, Ishmael declares themselves to be like twin brothers.  Death doesn’t frighten them at that moment because they trust that they will each protect the other.

 

Queequeg has his own close flirtation with death during the voyage.  He contracts a fever and becomes resigned to die.  Queequeg embraces the possibility of his own death and even lies in his own coffin without a struggle.  But upon realizing he had a job on land to do, Queequeg delays his own death and becomes well.

 

Quite differently from Queequeg, Ahab is not at all comfortable with the idea of death.  His first near-death experience was when he lost his leg to Moby Dick.  After realizing how fragile and vulnerable his own life is, Ahab begins a vengeful quest to conquer death, in the form of Moby Dick.  Instead of embracing the inevitability of death, Ahab vows to fight against it.  

     

 

 

 

 

Print Friendly