Chapter 13, “The Wheelbarrow”
On a Monday morning, Queequeg and Ishmael put their belongings in a wheelbarrow and go down to the wharf to catch a schooner to Nantucket. Ishmael asks Queequeg why he carries his harpoon around when each ship has their own store. Queequeg has a lucky history with this one and doesn’t want to part with it. He tells a funny story about his first encounter with a wheelbarrow. He didn’t know what it was and put his chest in it, then lifted the wheelbarrow to his shoulder and carried it all down the street. In his country, a Westerner made an equally stupid blunder by washing his hands in a wedding punch bowl.
Chapter 14, “Nantucket”
On board the Moss, a bumpkin makes fun of Queequeg, who then throws the man in the air. This man, later falling overboard when the boom hits him, is rescued by Queequeg who alone dares to jump into the icy water. Queequeg becomes a hero, and Ishmael vows to cleave to him.
Ishmael describes Nantucket, an island dedicated to whaling, and more at sea than part of the land. Other people may conquer countries, but Nantucketers own 2/3 of the oceans and live on the sea for years together.
Chapter 15, “Chowder”
On Nantucket, Ishmael and Queequeg stay at the Try Pots, owned by Hosea Hussey, cousin of their last landlord. They are served tasty fish chowders for all their meals, and even the milk is fish-flavored. As at the Spouter-Inn, all the decorations at the Try Pots remind Ishmael of death.
Analysis - Chapters 13, 14, and 15
Ishmael, like Thoreau or Carlyle in Sartor Resartus, is fond of philosophizing on the objects around him, thus supplying his own commentary on every event. Thus, the beginning of his trip to Nantucket reminds him that life is cruise after cruise, for earthly efforts are never completed.
Ishmael is still captivated by the myth of man fighting a war with the whale, the animal with such unconscious power to destroy. Imagine that the Nantucketer, living on an island, goes to sleep, while under his pillow rush herds of whales and walruses.
Finally, the narrator continues to get comedy out of the comparison of Christian and pagan traditions, showing that viewpoints and customs differ in various parts of the world. He seems to regard the two as equally absurd or serious.