This is Moby Dick Chapter 26: Knights and Squires (summary).
Vocabulary Words found in this chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 26: Knights and Squires (Vocabulary Words)
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Starbuck is the chief mate of the Pequod, he’s from Nantucket, and he’s also a Quaker. He’s a serious man. Even though he was born on icy lands, he’s able to endure hot climates.
He had seen thirty summers, and those summers made him look thin. However, he is thin, not because he’s stressed or something like that, but because he was already born thin.
Yet he’s not at all ill-looking. Actually, he looks fit and looks quite a strong man that can endure for a long time even in hotter or colder climates. Looking into his eyes, you can see all the dangers he had calmly faced in life.
However, he also has some qualities that outweigh all the other ones mentioned above. One of those qualities is his uncommon meticulousness. He also has a reverence for superstitions since he feels lonely at sea. That’s why he’s into omens and presentiments.
Moreover, there are times that he remembers his family that is far apart from him. And because of that, he dramatically turns into someone fragile, like a completely different person.
‘I will have no man in my boat who is not afraid of a whale,’ said Starbuck. By this he means, not only that courage is very useful and reliable at times of perils. He also means to say that a man who’s entirely fearless is much more dangerous than a coward.
Stubb, the second mate, says that Starbuck is a very careful man that you’ll find in the fishing business. But Ishmael warns that we shall see what that word ‘careful’ precisely means when a man like Stubb, or any other whaleman, uses that word.
For Starbuck, courage is not an attitude, but simply a thing useful to him. Furthermore, courage is not to be foolishly wasted. He doesn’t want to persistently fight a fish that’s also persistent in fighting him.
Rather, he’s just on the ocean for a living and all he wants is to try not to get killed by whales. For Starbuck knew that hundreds of men had died trying to be persistent in killing a whale. Additionally, he doesn’t want to die like what happened to his father and to his brother.
But even though he has this grieving memory, his courage still flourishes. However, that doesn’t mean that these experiences of his will not debilitate his courage. Because, sadly and shockingly, in the following chapters, we’ll witness the abasement of Starbuck’s fortitude.
Men may be mean, but a man, in the ideal, is noble that even though there is a humiliating imperfection inside him, men will still honor him. And even though this “manliness” and dignity cannot be seen outwards, it’s still inside him.
Then Ishmael explains that, if he’s going to exalt and glorify men who seem lowly, then that’s just the result of the democratic equality of men. After all, men like John Bunyan, Miguel de Cervantes, and Andrew Jackson have been glorified by history. And Ishmael thinks that God selected these lowly men to be glorious someday.
End of Moby Dick Chapter 26: Knights and Squires (summary).