Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 3 – The Spouter-Inn

Chapter 3 of the classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville, summarized in verse. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

The Spouter-Inn

The tavern heaves as if it were a sloop
battered by too many waves, too much drink,
as three years afloat celebrates the shore.

But revelry is for those coming in,
not those going out. Ishmael wants only
a bed. None can be had but one, to share

with the harpooner, a man peddling
in shrunken heads by lamplight and darkness.
Hesitantly, he enters the room, lies

until there stands Queequeg, wrapped in tattoos,
ax in hand, startled but sober. Ishmael,
and the harpooner, will share fouler sheets.


  1. Southern Fried Scientist · August 31, 2010

    Queequeg, the greatest character in all of American literature.

  2. Jason R · August 31, 2010

    Hey, this showed up over at today:

    Article with whaling images from 16th-18th century

  3. Southern Fried Scientist · September 1, 2010

    Part of what makes the beginning of the book so compelling is the way Melville builds the relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg. It’s obvious that Melville is foreshadowing now, and alludes to later, that they have a sexual relationship. Ishmael and Queequeg aren’t just connected by friendship or a shared journey, but by deep love and devotion. The way he describes Ishmael watching Queequeg undress, the way Queequeg behaves when they share a bed, is a least as clear as Tess of the d’Urbervilles, a slightly more modern novel that deals with sexuality in a more puritanic era.

    All of that makes the fateful voyage of the Pequod so much more tragic.

    I also find it interesting that they’re brought together by Peter Coffin, and separated by Queequeg’s coffin.

  4. eslam · December 7, 2010

    Appeared a great white shark and has killed 4 people and still find

    And I need an expert in the science of shark to talk with me and how to deal and what control methods

    Or the owner’s speech

    I want to solve this problem on the Elimination of these fish shark

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