Moby Dick: Chapters 24-25

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Chapter 24, “The Advocate”
 
Summary
The narrator takes a step back to defend whaling on a realistic and practical level, showing it to be worthy of epic treatment by its usefulness alone. If one says whalers are butchers, it is true, but so are Martial Commanders, and the carnage of a battlefield is less wholesome. Whale hunting takes more courage than war, for it is confronting the reality of God rather than other men. Americans outnumber all other whale men and bring in $7,000,000.00 a year to the economy. The whale ship has explored the least known parts of the earth and brings nations together in work and trade. The whale is a noble animal, “a royal fish” according to English law. Whalers have been the narrator’s Yale and Harvard.
 
 
Chapter 25, “Postscript”
 
In addition, the coronation of kings and queens depend upon whale oil for anointing the royal heads of state.
 
 
Analysis Chapters 24 and 25
 
The “anatomy,” which literally means “cutting up,” is a detailed analysis of a subject that intermixes fact and commentary. It has come to mean a compendium of knowledge, along with satirical remarks on life and society. Moby Dick serves as both an “anatomy” of whaling and life itself.
 
Melville shuttles back and forth between the factual details of the whaling industry and their allegorical significance that rely on references to history, art, and philosophy. Here he attempts to ground his grand symbolic story on the actual physical whale who is a noble beast and economically important to Americans. This “profession” of whaling should be dignified more than it is, for it was an education worth more than Yale or Harvard to the narrator.
 
 

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