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by Herman Melville

Moby-Dick Chapter 31: Queen Mab Summary

  • In the morning, Stubb tells Flask about a dream he had the night before. There’s no doubt that it could easily win a "weirdest whaling dream" contest: Stubb dreams that Ahab kicks him with his ivory/bone leg. Stubb tries to kick him back and his own leg comes off.
  • Ahab turns into a pyramid, which Stubb keeps kicking. (It doesn’t seem to matter that one of his legs has come off.)
  • In the dream, Stubb seems to realize that being kicked by a false leg is less of an insult than being kicked by a real one, because the false leg isn’t alive and narrows to a little point. (No, that doesn’t make any real sense, but that’s what he thinks in the dream.)
  • An old merman appears, grabs Stubb by the shoulders, and turns him around. Stubb decides not to kick the merman because the merman’s covered in spikes.
  • The merman tells Stubb to stop kicking Ahab (who is still a pyramid at this point) because it’s actually an honor to be kicked by a great man with an ivory leg—sort of like being slapped by a queen.
  • The merman swims off and Stubb wakes up.
  • Flask doesn’t think much of Stubb’s dream, but Stubb insists that it’s made him wise, and that now he knows to leave Ahab alone.
  • Ahab, meanwhile, calls up to the lookout that he’s spotted whales in the area, and that he’s especially interested in white whales.
  • Stubb can tell there’s something special going on with the whole white whale thing. Maybe he’s right…

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