The Counterpane

Topics: Friends

The Counterpane: An Objective Perspective on the Relationship Between Ishmael and Queequeg In this essay I will be discussing the queer (peculiar) relationship of two characters from the novel, Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The two characters of focus are Ishmael, the main protagonist, and Queequeg, a harpooner that Ishmael encounters. I will examine the growth of their relationship since their meeting and study their interactions with one another as the story progresses. I will interpret the significance of their behavior using examples of imagery and tone used in the novel.

In Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, Ishmael and Queequeg form a strong bond that develops over the course of their adventure. Their relationship is more intense than the average friendship between men. Quotes such as “hearts’ honeymoon” and “cozy, loving pair” suggest a sense of matrimony between them. Ishmael is shown to care for Queequeg a great deal. He became fearful for Queequegs well-being – “Get the axe! For God’s sake, run for the doctor, some one, while I pry it open! ” It is also apparent that Ishmael greatly admires Queequeg.

He seems to be very interested in his muscular physique, “reveling his brawny shoulder”. I believe that by analyzing the imagery and tone of the novel, their relationship can be depicted as more than a common friendship. Ishmael and Queequegs relationship is more affectionate and emotional than a common male friendship, this can be seen through specific uses of imagery. At first Ishmael was hesitant to share a bed with the mysterious harpooner, but after much explanation Ishmael found that Queequeg was actually polite and kind man.

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There is then much less tension as they shared a bed. Ishmael describes how Queequegs arm was thrown over him in “the most loving and affectionate anner” and how he could have been mistaken for his wife. “Thus, then, in our hearts’ honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg, a cozy, loving pair. ” This imagery gives the impression of a sort of matrimony between the two of them that is uncommon in men, especially at their age. As the story progresses it becomes apparent that Ishmael cares deeply for Queequeg and his well being. Get the axe! For God’s sake, run for the doctor, someone, while I pry it open! ” Ishmael’s tone of desperation is evidence of genuinely caring about Queequeg. “From that hour I clove to Queequeg ike a barnacle”, this imagery shows how tightly Ishmael embraced Queequeg after he returned from the sea, having Just saved the bumpkin. watched as Queequeg was “revealing his brawny shoulders through the freezing foam”, and seemed to ogle “the grand and glorious fellow’.

The descriptiveness of each detail shows how much attention Ishmael was paying to Queequegs muscular physique. When Ishmael refers to him as “My brave Queequeg” as he dives to rescue a crew member shows his admiration for Queequegs vigilance in the face of danger. Queequeg and Ishmael have grown to trust each other with their lives. “l seemed to istinctively perceive that my own individuality was now merged in a Joint stick of two. ” Ishmael’s tone signifies that he understands and accepts that Queequegs life is in hands. …. we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if the need should be. ” This shows Queequeg too, trusted Ishmael enough to put his life on the line for him. Ishmael and Queequeg have grown very close since their first encounter and have continued to support each other. Friendships like these are uncommon among men at their age. Their interactions, along with the tone and imagery of the novel suggest that in the end they are more than Just friends.

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The Counterpane. (2018, Jun 19). Retrieved from

The Counterpane
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