This is Moby Dick Chapter 15: Chowder (summary)
Vocabulary Words found in this chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 15: Chowder (Vocabulary Words)

Previous Chapter: Chapter 14: Nantucket (summary)

It was quite late in the evening when Ishmael and Queegqueg had arrived in Nantucket. Ishmael recalled that the landlord of the Spouter-Inn had recommended his cousin, Hosea Hussey, to them. He is the proprietor of one of the most kept hotels in Nantucket, the Try Pots. And, he was famous for his chowders.

Peter Coffin1the Spouter-Inn’s landlord’s name had told them the most puzzling directions to get to Mr. Hussey. As a result, both Ishmael and Queegqueg had a headache. So they’ve just decided to knock on the door of a peaceful person to ask their way to the hotel. 

At last, they got there. Upon arriving there, they saw two horns and tombstones, forming a shape like that of the gallows. Also, there were two enormous black wooden pots beside that.

Next, they noticed a freckled, yellow-haired woman in a yellow gown—that’s Mrs. Hussey. And she was scolding at a man wearing a purple woolen shirt—that’s certainly Mr. Hosea Hussey, her husband. Mr. Hussey was leaving home to attend to his affairs.

Queegqueg and Ishmael approached Mrs. Hussey, and said that they’d like to have supper and a bed for the night. First, Mrs. Hussey ceased her quarrellings with her husband. Next, she ushered the both of them into a little room. And then sat them down on a table with relics atop.

Finally, she asked them repeatedly: “Clam or Cod?” In a hurry to resume the scolding with her husband at the entry, all she heard from them was “clam”. And so she bawled out in the kitchen: “Clam for two!”

Clam and Cod Chowder in Moby Dick Chapter 15 Summary.

The aroma of a warm, delicious savory from the kitchen reached their noses while they waited. And they tried to guess what this dish was. Finally, the mystery has been explained—it was Mrs. Hussey’s famous chowder, which tasted quite excellent.

Ishmael began to lean back for a moment, and recalled that conversation they had with Mrs. Hussey earlier. Then, he came up with the idea of uttering the word “cod” at the kitchen door with emphasis, just to see if they will serve him cod-chowder. Surprisingly, they did!

There was a saying about the “chowder-headed people.” And it made Ishmael wonder what it might mean. Not long after he thought that, he began seeing a live eel in Queegqueg’s bowl. And then strangely he asked for the whereabouts of Queegqueg’s harpoon. 

So that must be it—chowder makes people crazy. Unfortunately, in Try Pots, pots are always boiling with chowders. For breakfast, chowder; lunch, chowder; dinner, chowder; and for supper, chowder. They’ll feed you until you’re a chowder-head.

Now talking about the Try Pots hotel, the area before the house was paved with clam shells. Noticeably, Mrs. Hussey wore a polished necklace of codfish vertebra, and Mr. Hosea Hussey had his account books bound in old shark-skin. 

Ishmael couldn’t honestly figure out why their milk beverage had a fishy flavor. This puzzled him until that one morning at the beach. There, he saw Mr. Hosea’s cow, feeding on fish remains.

After supper, they received a lamp and directions from Mrs. Hussey concerning the nearest way to bed. When they were about to go upstairs, Queegqueg demanded his harpoon from Mrs. Hussey. Unfortunately, she doesn’t allow harpoons to be brought inside the rooms.

Ishmael asked why she doesn’t allow it, and reasoned that every true whaleman has to have his own harpoon beside him every time, even in bed. She convinced them with a true life story that had happened in the hotel before.

There was this young man named Stiggs, who always brings his harpoon with him, even in bed. The next morning, they found his dead body, with the harpoon stuck on his side. Ever since that incident had occurred, Mrs. Hussey doesn’t let anyone of the boarders take such dangerous weapons inside their rooms at night.

She told Queegqueg that he may take it back in the morning. And then she asked them if they would have cod or clam chowder for breakfast tomorrow. Ishmael said he’d like to have both flavors, and also a smoked herring.

End of Moby Dick Chapter 15: Chowder (summary)

Next chapter: Chapter 16: The Ship (summary)

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