Study Guide

Daggoo in Moby-Dick

By Herman Melville

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Daggoo is an African tribesman from a costal village who voluntarily joined a whaling ship when he was young (in a strange, parodic reversal of the way that slaves were often kidnapped from such villages and imprisoned on slave ships bound for America).

Daggoo is enormous, physically very powerful, and barely acculturated to the customs of the white Americans around him. Ironically, on board the Pequod, he is the harpooneer on Flask’s whale boat. The immense, strong, calm black harpooneer and the tiny, hotheaded white officer are not only a strange pairing—sometimes they seem positively allegorical. (Which, to be fair, we could say that about pretty much everything in this book.)

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