by Herman Melville
Moby-Dick Chapter 65: The Whale as a Dish Summary
- Ishmael feels the need to explain Stubb’s behavior—eating a newly-slaughtered creature by the light of its own oil.
- First, Ishmael lists several epicurean circles in which whale and porpoise meat are considered delicacies.
- Next, Ishmael explains that the main reason whale-hunters tend not to eat the meat of their prey is that seeing such an enormous pile of meat as a whale carcass takes their appetite away.
- Plus, whales are so rich—so oily—that it’s hard to eat much of them, although it can be tasty to dip bread in their spermaceti and fry it.
- Ishmael speculates about the nature of eating meat. Slaughtering a whale might seem like murder, but slaughtering an ox probably did the first time it happened, too.
- He suggests that everyone is a cannibal in some way; a cannibal tribesman who kills and preserves a missionary might not be as bad as the "civilized and enlightened gourmand" who tortures geese to get paté-de-foie-gras. We’re not sure we agree with this argument, but the production methods used to make foie gras are pretty disturbing.
- Ishmael lists several other situations in which eating an animal is coupled with using something else made from its body—eating roast beef and using a knife with an ox-bone handle, and eating a goose and using a goose feather as a toothpick.
People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...