Study Guide

Moby-Dick Chapter 75: The Right Whale’s Head – Contrasted View

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Chapter 75: The Right Whale’s Head – Contrasted View

  • Continuing on from the last chapter, Ishmael the director starts to send his film camera into the mouth of the right whale’s head, even though he finds it far less elegant than the sperm whale’s.
  • As he pulls in for his close-up of the right whale’s head, Ishmael notices how many different things it reminds him of: a musical instrument, the trunk of an oak tree, a king’s crown.
  • Moving in under the whale’s hare-lip into its mouth, Ishmael notices the slats of whale-bone that structure its mouth. (This is the baleen through which the whale feeds on tiny crustaceans.)
  • There are many fables about these slats of bone, and they’re often used to structure women’s undergarments.
  • Ishmael thinks they make the whale’s mouth look like a huge pipe organ.
  • Ishmael reviews the anatomical differences between the sperm whale and the right whale and advises the reader to look at them closely now—because they’ll be sinking into the ocean soon.
  • Ishmael also tries to analyze the whales’ facial expressions: he thinks the sperm whale looks indifferent to death, while the right whale looks resolved.

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