Moby Dick Chapter 17: The Ramadan (summary)

Know how Queegqueg’s ridiculous Ramadan affected everybody at the hotel, without him moving a muscle.

This is Moby Dick Chapter 17: The Ramadan (summary).
Vocabulary Words found in this chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 17: The Ramadan (Vocabulary Words)

Previous Chapter: Chapter 16: The Ship (summary)

Ishmael had let Queegqueg be with his Fasting or Ramadan for a whole day until nightfall. Ishmael respects everyone’s religion and beliefs, including ants that worship a toadstool. He believes that one should still respect other people’s beliefs, even if their beliefs may sound crazy.

It was already evening, and surely Queegqueg’s rituals are finished by now. Ishmael knocked at their door, but there was no answer. Next, he tried to open it, yet it was locked from inside. He called out Queegqueg’s name, but all was silent.

Then he took a peek through the keyhole, but all he saw was Queegqueg’s harpoon. It was leaning against the interior wall. That’s strange. The night before, Mrs. Hussey took it and said she’ll keep it. And yet here it is! Queegqueg’s possibly inside the room because he doesn’t go anywhere without his harpoon.

So Ishmael shouted Queegqueg’s name out loud. There’s still no answer. “Apoplexy!”, Ishmael exclaimed. He quickly went downstairs and stated his suspicions to the chambermaid. She said she came upstairs to make the bed earlier just before breakfast, but the door’s locked. So she assumed that both of them were outside the hotel.

Then she cried out Mrs. Hussey’s name while running towards the kitchen. Soon, she appeared after attending to the casters, and after she scolded her little black boy. Ishmael cried for an axe for door-opening. He rushed upstairs again empty-handed. Mrs. Hussey followed and asked what’s going on. On the other hand, Ishmael kept crying out for an axe and for a doctor.

Ishmael then speedily explains to curious Mrs. Hussey about what had happened. After realizing what had happened, she ran down to her closet, returned upstairs, and said that Queegqueg’s harpoon was really missing. Additionally, she deduced that Queegqueg had killed himself.

Later, she caught Ishmael trying to force open the door many times. She strictly told him not to do that to her precious premises, and suggested to go look for a locksmith instead. But never minding what Mrs. Hussey’s saying, Ishmael began to go back for a charge to the door, and then dashed himself against the door.

The door flung open. At last, they saw Queegqueg seated on the floor, frozen as a dead statue, while holding Yojo on top of his head. Seriously, he’s been sitting there for eight or ten hours without eating.

Ishmael and Mrs. Hussey did all they could to make Queegqueg speak up, but not a word from Queegqueg. So, Ishmael attempted to push him over, but he couldn’t shake him. In this case, Ishmael notified Mrs. Hussey that Queegqueg is alive and requested her to leave them.

As of Queegqueg, he never minded Ishmael’s presence. Therefore, Ishmael thought that this act is part of his Ramadan. So he left Queegqueg for supper, and thought that he would get up sooner or later.

For a long time, he sat with the sailors that came from a plum-pudding voyage1that is, a short whaling-voyage in a schooner or brig, confined to the north of the line in the Atlantic Ocean only. in the Atlantic Ocean, and listened to their stories until nearly eleven o’clock. Soon, he went upstairs and was quite sure that Queegqueg is now done with his Ramadan.

But no; there he was, still where he had left him! It seemed so senseless and insane for Ishmael (personally, even for me) for someone to sit all day and half a night in a cold room, holding nothing but a piece of wood on his head. Hence, he ordered Queegqueg to have some supper, or else hunger will kill him.

Shortly, Ishmael went to bed, certain that Queegqueg will soon follow him to bed after some time. But before he closed his eyes, he took his bearskin jacket and threw it on over Queegqueg, for it was a cold night, and he wears merely a round jacket on. For some time, Ishmael couldn’t get to sleep because of Queegqueg’s ridiculous Ramadan. But at last, he fell asleep.

Upon waking up the next morning, Queegqueg’s still seated on the floor. Finally, when the first glimpse of the sun entered the window, the cheerful Queegqueg got up with cracking joints. He approached Ishmael, pressed his forehead against his, and happily said that the Ramadan was finally over.

Earlier, Ishmael had told us that he has no objection to any religion. But, if that religion tortures one’s body, he thought he should argue the point with that person. So he called Queegqueg, asked him to lie beside him, and told him to listen to him. 

Ishmael began with the rise and progress of the primitive religions. Next, he discussed the various religions of the present time. Third, he talked about the Lents, Ramadans, and prolonged squatting. Ishmael frankly told him that this Ramadan is bad for the health, useless for the soul, terrible for one’s hygiene, and that it contradicts common sense itself.

After that, he asked Queegqueg if he experienced dyspepsia. He said no, but only on one memorable occasion. It was after they’d killed fifty enemies on the battlefield by about two o’clock in the afternoon. That very evening, all enjoyed a big feast. In other words, they’ve barbecued all the slain. 

The discussion ended. But Ishmael knew that Queegqueg didn’t listen to a single word Ishmael said about religions, but that’s okay. Anyway, they got up, and dressed. Queegqueg ate all sorts of chowders. After breakfast, they picked their teeth with halibut bones on their way to the Pequod.

Halibut fish bone Moby Dick Chapter 17: The Ramadan (summary)
Halibut fish bone

End of Moby Dick Chapter 17: The Ramadan (summary).

Next chapter: Chapter 18: His Mark (summary)

End of Moby Dick Chapter 17: The Ramadan (summary).

This article was written by Zeddrix Fabian

Zeddrix Fabian became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses on February 21, 2016, and started regular pioneering last March 2020. His goal is to be able to volunteer at Bethel. After going to both private and public school for 10 years (Grade 1 to 8 in private; Grade 9 and 10 in public school), their family tried out homeschooling when he leveled up to Grade 11 last 2019. (Continue reading on the ABOUT ZEDD menu.)

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