Study Guide

Moby-Dick Chapter 15: Chowder

By Herman Melville

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Chapter 15: Chowder

  • Ishmael and Queequeg disembark from the ferry.
  • It’s too late at night to do any business in Nantucket, so they go to an inn recommended by Peter Coffin called The Try Pots, run by Hosea Hussey, Peter’s cousin.
  • The Try Pots is supposed to be famous for its chowders.
  • It takes a little while to find the Try Pots, but eventually they manage.
  • Ishmael thinks that the "sign" of the inn, which is two huge black pots hanging from an old mast, looks like a gallows.
  • He wonders if all these symbols of death (a landlord named Peter Coffin, tombstones in the chapel, and something that looks like a gallows) might be a bad sign. You think?
  • Hosea Hussey isn’t there, but Ishmael and Queequeg meet Mrs. Hussey, who asks them nothing but "clam or cod." This confuses Ishmael, but it turns out to be a question about what kind of chowder they want.
  • They try both kinds, and both are excellent. (In fact, when you read the description, it’s hard not to want clam chowder for dinner. Actually, we’re kind of salivating here.)
  • Our heroes discover that the Try Pots serves chowder every meal; the floor is paved with clamshells instead of tiles, and even the milk tastes like fish (because the cow eats fish heads).
  • Ishmael and Queequeg head to bed.
  • Mrs. Hussey insists that Queequeg leave his harpoon downstairs; a guest at the Try Pots was once killed in bed with his own harpoon.
  • Ishmael orders both kinds of chowder for breakfast.

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