Mody Dick - the Blanket

Mody Dick - the Blanket

Blubber Fate

In Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick, the main character and narrator of the story Ishmael questions society and the afterlife throughout the entire book. Melville makes the reader think a lot about religion and how people are conform to society. In chapter 68 The Blanket, Melville makes the reader think about how mistakes cannot be avoided. Nothing is ever as perfect or exact as it may appear to society due to human knowledge always being limited and insufficient.

Ishmael starts off the chapter by talking about the whales skin. He questions “what and where is the skin of the whale?”(p.276) One would undoubtedly think the skin of the whale is visible to everyone and is the blubber of the whale, but Ishmael doesn’t think this to be true. The blubber “ranges from eight or ten to twelve and fifteen inches in thickness” (p.276) and is so thick that, to Ishmael, it seems like something else even though it is the outermost layer. Ishmael believes there to be a “skin of the skin”, which he believes is a thin, transparent substance. He used this thin transparent substance as a book mark and sometimes he even reads articles about whales using this piece of whale as a sort of magnifying glass. Ishmael goes on to say he does not think of the substance as the skin, but rather the skin of the skin, for it “invests the entire body of the whale” (p.276). The blubber appears to be the skin to the naked eye and mind, but when looking closely at the body of the whale, Ishmael found another skin like substance, which makes the reader wonder which layer of the whale is really the skin. The reader is left wondering whether the blubber or the thin substance is actually the skin when Melville concludes the paragraph with “no more of this” (p.276) and closes the topic.

Melville goes on to tell us in the next paragraph how much oil is made from the blubber, “assuming” the blubber to be the skin. If the blubber is the skin, Ishmael tells us, it gives about...

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