In whaling, there is enlightenment. Or so Ishmael suggests in this chapter.


After the hellish imagery of “The Try-Works,” Ishmael reveals in this very brief chapter that the benefit of hunting for whales, stabbing them to death, stripping of their blubber, and reducing their flesh to oil is — well, the oil, which provides them with illumination. If oil is scarce in a merchantman, whose sailors must “dress in the dark, and eat in the dark, and stumble in darkness to [their] pallet[s],” it is plentiful on a whaler and allows the sailors to make their berths “an Aladdin’s lamp.”

What happens, one wonders, when the lamp is rubbed?

“The Lamp” is read by James Balla.The untitled illustration is by Natasha Kidd.


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