From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Herman Melville

Captain Boomer

Character Analysis

Captain Boomer, the commander of the English whaling ship the Samuel Enderby, is like Ahab’s reflection in a funhouse mirror: like Ahab, he lost a limb to Moby Dick, a limb that has been replaced by a prosthetic of whalebone. In Captain Boomer’s case, it’s an arm.

Unlike Ahab, however, Captain Boomer is able to put this incident behind him and leave Moby Dick alone. Captain Boomer is there to remind us how singular Ahab is—yeah, Ahab’s lost a leg, but it’s not every guy who, having had a traumatic accident, will then hold an obsessive grudge against the whale in question.

Wanting to know what separates Captain Ahab from Captain Boomer is like trying to figure out what makes a tragic hero different from a regular guy. It’s something intangible, but it’s definitely there.