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Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick

by Herman Melville

Sexuality and Sexual Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

At length, by dint of much wriggling, and loud and incessant expostulations upon the unbecomingness of his hugging a fellow male in that matrimonial sort of style, I succeeded in extracting a grunt; and presently, he drew back his arm, shook himself all over like a Newfoundland dog just from the water, and sat up in bed, stiff as a pike-staff, looking at me, and rubbing his eyes as if he did not altogether remember how I came to be there, though a dim consciousness of knowing something about me seemed slowly dawning over him. Meanwhile, I lay quietly eyeing him, having no serious misgivings now, and bent upon narrowly observing so curious a creature. (4.4)

Apart from the erotic connotations of the "wriggling" and of being "stiff as a pike-staff," this passage reads like a scene from a film in which the main character wakes up in bed next to someone he doesn’t remember sleeping with the night before.

Quote #2

I began to be sensible of strange feelings. I felt a melting in me. No more my splintered heart and maddened hand were turned against the wolfish world. This soothing savage had redeemed it. There he sat, his very indifference speaking a nature in which there lurked no civilized hypocrisies and bland deceits. Wild he was; a very sight of sights to see; yet I began to feel myself mysteriously drawn towards him. And those same things that would have repelled most others, they were the very magnets that thus drew me. I’ll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy. I drew my bench near him, and made some friendly signs and hints, doing my best to talk with him meanwhile. At first he little noticed these advances; but presently, upon my referring to his last night’s hospitalities, he made out to ask me whether we were again to be bedfellows. I told him yes; whereat I thought he looked pleased, perhaps a little complimented. (10.5)

Ishmael is falling in love. We can tell it’s love because the things he was prejudiced against the night before are now things that seem really attractive. Plus, he feels better about the whole world in general. Queequeg, on the other hand, just wants to know whether it was a one-night thing or not.

Quote #3

If there yet lurked any ice of indifference towards me in the Pagan’s breast, this pleasant, genial smoke we had, soon thawed it out, and left us cronies. He seemed to take to me quite as naturally and unbiddenly as I to him; and when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning, in his country’s phrase, that we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if need should be. (10.7)

This is a cute little "lost in translation" moment. If someone clasps you to them and declares that you’re married, you usually don’t interpret that as meaning "best pals." So we’re forced to wonder whether Ishmael is correct, or telling the truth, when he says that "bosom friends" are all they are. It’s possible, of course, that that’s the real version of the story. It’s possible that Ishmael thinks that and Queequeg intends something else. And it’s possible that, well, they really are married – at least according to Queequeg’s customs.

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