Common Ground

Whaling Novel

Caleb Goodman

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Arguably the most important book in American Literature is being read by a group of students during the first ELO block of every week:  the fantastically written Moby Dick.  It was published in 1851 by author Herman Melville.  The group, led by English teacher Mr. Whalen, has read and discussed merely 40 of the 135 chapters but a few themes have already showed prevalence: for example, the power of water.

Here’s a gem I’d like to share relating to this theme: “Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.” This excerpt explains the protagonist Ishmael’s fascination with water, a fascination that is shared with many other people.  The power of water is a theme that flows through the entire novel.

Even though “Moby Dick” was published over 160 years ago there’s something for everyone; it’s a timeless classic for a reason.  

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The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont
Whaling Novel