I. Biographical Insights
A. The culture this great author was a part of was the time in American history
where inspiring works of literature began to emerge. It was also a time when
American writers had not completely separated its literary heritage from Europe,
partly because there were successful literary genius' flourishing there.
B. Herman Melville was born on August 1, 1819, he was the son of Allan and Maria
Melville. During Herman's childhood he lived in the “good” neighborhoods of New
York City. In 1832 Herman suffered tragedy when his father died after trying to
cope with the stress of debts and misfortunes. After a short time in a business
house in New York City, Herman determined he needed to go to sea. He spent
years traveling on a variety of ships, including whaling ships.
C1. Melville's perspective on life is that God created the universe with an
infinite number of meanings and man is always trying to determine one specific
D2. The “lessons” that Melville is likely to weave into his writing are 1. An
exposition on whales and the whaling industry. 2. A commentary on the universe
and human destiny. 3. Thoughts about God and Nature.
B. The protagonist in this book is Ishmael, a Christian, schoolteacher and part-
time sailor. Ishmael's role in the hunt for “Moby Dick” is to interpret what is
happening. He discusses his reasons for going to sea and interprets and looks
for understanding a number of reasons for any specific action where other
characters only understand one reason.
C. It is hard to say what changes take place in Ishmael's personality, since he
is the narrator he doesn't talk about himself, he only talks about what he sees.
D1. Ishmael befriends Queequeg who is a cannibal. Even though Queequeg is very
ugly Ishmael sees that Queequeg has an honest heart, great honor, and a lot of
courage. This friendship had a positive influence on Ishmael's behavior because
it taught him not to judge on outward appearances.
E2. Another relationship that was very short was the relationship between
Ishmael and Captain Ahab. For the first few days aboard the Pequod Ishmael
always saw Ahab in the shadows. When Ishmael finally saw Ahab he had shivers
run through his body. Ishmael felt Ahab's attitude of determination, dedication
and hatred towards “Moby Dick” in Ahab's appearance. This relationship was a
negative relationship because Ishmael now feared Ahab and did not want to
become friends with such an evil person.
F. The conflict that Ishmael experienced was that he saw how Ahab was such an