A philosopher esque question asked at the beginning of Chapter 68 by Ishmael, kick-starts this chapters inquiring tone, “What and where is the skin of the whale?” (Melville 274) Ask anyone where the skin of an animal is located that is in front of him or her and they would simply point to where the animal is, exclaiming, “right there on top.” But Ishmael wants to know everything about the whale. He wants to know about every layer and marking on the beast. In Chapter 68 Ishmael talks about the skin of the whale, calling it a blanket, “for the whale is indeed wrapt up in his blubber as in a real blanket.” (Melville 276) And as the chapter continues, several details lace their way throughout concerning how thick the blubber of the whale is and how a thin transparent cellophane-like layer referred to by Ishmael as the “skin of the skin” covers the main blubber layer of the whale and is used for various things such as decorations and bookmarks. Is...
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... and inquisitive thinker. He wants to know everything there is to know about the whale. He ponders about the whale on an abstract level as well as on a naturalistic level. By understanding Chapter 68, we can see Ishmael’s true characteristics come forth; he is hungry for knowledge, is curious about many subjects including cetology and geography, as well as Orientalism, and Native Americans. Ishmael longs to have a better understanding of all things, most importantly the great white whale. In conclusion, similar themes of who Ishmael is as a character are equally echoed throughout the many rich chapters of the book, leaving us to believe that Melville’s intentions when crafting the character of Ishmael were to give us an inviting character through his kindness (“call me Ishmael”) as well as an insightful character that we can learn from through his various thoughts.
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