Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 4 – The Counterpain

Chapter 4 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 Counterpain

He awoke to find the great harpooner’s
arm draped over him. The patchwork tattoos
became his comfort. Not wanting to rouse

the sleeping Queequeq, Ishmael remained still.
As a child, his mother would punish him
by forcing him to bed while still daylight.

With no such embargo, he nudged the man
awake. The cannibal rose and began
to dress, as if unaccustomed to clothes

and unused to strange customs, manners which
seem sensible to us. He soaps his face,
and smooths his beard with a harpoon’s steel edge.

One comment

  1. Southern Fried Scientist · September 5, 2010

    This chapter perfectly frames who Queequeg is, not really a ‘savage’ but not quite accustomed to western mannerism (and why should he be?). IN general kind, gentle, and conscientious, but, just so you don’t forget, he’s so badass he shaves with a goddamn harpoon.

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