Study Guide

Moby-Dick Chapter 52: The Albatross

By Herman Melville

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Chapter 52: The Albatross

  • When the Pequod comes to the Crozetts, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, she sees another whaling ship, the Goney. ("Goney" is another name for an albatross.)
  • The Goney’s wood is bleached, and along the white sides of the ship are red streaks of rust.
  • The men on board have long beards and tattered clothes and remain completely silent, even though the two ships pass close enough for the men to talk.
  • Ahab calls out to the other ship, immediately asking if they’ve seen the White Whale.
  • The Goney’s captain holds up a primitive megaphone to answer him, but somehow manages to drop it into the sea.
  • Ahab seems to consider sending out a boat to board the Goney, but the wind is against them.
  • As the wake of the Goney washes past the Pequod, shoals of small fish that have been swimming alongside break away from the Pequod and arrange themselves around the Goney.
  • Ahab is deeply saddened by this small thing and takes it as a bad omen.
  • Ahab draws strength from somewhere and orders them to keep sailing "round the world." Ishmael wishes it were really a voyage of discovery instead of an insane revenge quest.

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