The chapter “Biographical” is Ishamel’s reconstruction and recounting of the personal narrative that Queequeg unfolds while they are lounging about in the Spouter-Inn. Though written in a comic vein, it nonetheless points to some of the novel’s serious concerns, such as the deficiencies of Christianity (both in theory and in practice), the opportunities for cosmopolitan interaction made available by whaling, adn the limits of Western Enlightenment rationalism and confidence in science progress. It also demonstrates the further development of the strong between Ishmael and Queequeg, despite their differences. Ishmael is a Christian and not well-to-do; Queequeg is a “pagan” and the son of a king. Both of them, however, are curious about the world and take to sea in order to see more of it. Both of them are disappointed by Christianityas it is commonly practiced.
Ishmael touches on the limits of Western reason and science when he says this about Queequeg’s home island of “Kokovoko”: “It is not down in any map; true places never are. The limits of map-making, and the kind of knowledge that maps represented, are explored further in the enigmatic later chapter called “The Chart.”
This sentence also forms the basis for the project that serves as the illustration for the chapter, Meridians