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egoodlett's picture


I said in class on Tuesday that upon beginning Moby Dick, I'd expected the novel to continue mainly in the first person. But thinking back now, that's not exactly true. As I was reading it, I was also waiting for the change or the shift that we were told would happen, a shift I was assuming would be to a encyclopedic-type explanation of things. Why I was expecting that, I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with this novel vaguely reminding me of Robinson Crusoe (minus the racism), which had a similar change in it.

So I wasn't completely surprised when I stumbled across the sudden shift in perspective, though it did somewhat annoy me. I guess at first I felt like it was an unneeded interruption to an otherwise perfectly enjoyable narrative (And, also, I was still remembering how annoyed I was reading Crusoe, which I think affected my mood).

However, as that section continued, I began to find that it kept my interest in other ways. The in-depth character descriptions kept the story moving, and the tidbits of the history of whaling leant more background to the main story.

Eventually, though, I stumbled across a change that really did surprise me. It started in Chapter 37, and by Chapter 40 it was obvious that the novel had switched to a play form for a while. But at Chapter 41, it switched back to a narrative. I wasn't really sure what to make of this last change. I suppose it was a good way to show glimpses of a lot of different sailors' personalities (especially in Chapter 40), but that could have been accomplished in a narrative as well. Why the sudden shift to playwriting?


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