The Whiteness of the Whale
2. What makes Ishmael swear an oath to kill the white whale? Does
Ishmael see Moby Dick the same way which Ahab sees him? Why is the
whiteness of the whale terrifying?
We know that Ahab has long before this story taken an oath to kill Moby Dick, but why have Ishmael and the crew of the ship taken up this oath too? And what exactly is the significance of the whale's white skin? I believe that these two questions can be directly related to one another; Ishmael's utter fear and respect for the color white associated with so many mythological creatures and lore accounts and contributes to his fear of Moby Dick. Within every man's fear is an anger to mask it, and this mask is the oath Ishmael swears; his fear of Moby Dick as an evil being
In Chapter 41, Ishmael speaks of an oath that he has taken up to kill the same white whale of the tales from Ahab, as has the rest of the crew; but not until chapter forty-two did I begin to make my own opinion of why he took up this oath.
It seems that the fight against Moby Dick belongs solely to Ahab, as he was the one robbed of his leg in a battle with the whale. I wondered, "Why might Ishmael take this oath up? He doesn't seem the type to take an aimless oath just to appease the captain of the ship? Maybe Ahab's speech was so moving that all of the men made the vendetta of Ahab theirs as well." None of these quite fit so I dug a little deeper. I see Ishmael as a wise, inquisitive type. Instead of a type alone, he is a mix...