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Symbols and Meanings in Moby Dick The novel begins with the famous statement by the books narrator Call me Ishmael He has the habit of going to sea whenever he begins to grow hazy about the eyes He goes to sea as a laborer not as a Commodore a Captain or a Cook but as a simple sailor He does so because he may be paid and because it affords him wholesome exercise and pure sea air It is said that the novel Moby Dick is one of the most ambitious in American literature one that encompasses many different styles of writing Herman Melville uses his characters his locations and even inanimate objects to serve as symbols for his story This is a story of a man Ahab in search of Satan Moby Dick on the one hand and God Moby Dick again on the other hand Ishmael is the narrator of the novel He is a simple sailor on the Pequod who undertakes the journey because of his affection for the sea As the narrator Ishmael establishes himself as somewhat of a nobody and a normal man His primary task is to observe the conflicts around him Ishmael has the only significant personal relationship in the novel he becomes a close friend with the pagan harpooner Queequeg and comes to cherish and adore him to a great level The relationship between Queequeg and Ishmael throughout Moby Dick generally illustrates the prevalent contrast between civilized specifically Christian society and uncivilized pagan society Melville continues the comparison and contrast between the two types of societies often usually in the discussion of Queequeg whos uncivilized and imposing appearance only obscures his actual honor and civilized demeanor In this way Melville is prepared to simply deconstruct Queequeg and position him in sympathetic terms making the characters to be virtually identical from both civilized and uncivilized societies On the other
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