Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Whale of a Time

Hello! Long time no see! I've been busy, haha. I've been reading Moby Dick as I think I previously mentioned. It's a really great read, no sarcasm, so I recommend it! I've been writing chapter by chapter reflections that are mostly about my life. My teacher still think they're interesting and a pleasure to read so kudos to my strange stories. I've decided to share a couple :) I hope you enjoy. I liked these reflections enough to share.

Chapter 15
Melville’s description of the wonderful delight of clam and cod chowder reminded me of a variety of different experiences that I’ve had. When I was in Monterrey, we decided to take a quick stroll along the beach around three or four to take in the beautiful scenery near the ocean. It soon became dark and we were searching frantically for any restaurant. As we were walking down Fisherman’s Wharf, there was a bounty of restaurants all giving out samples of clam chowder. My hunger was satiated by five different samples of the creamy and delicious soup. When you’re hungry, there’s nothing better than that taste of clam chowder. 
My mother works in Chinatown. Sometimes on a rare holiday from school, I have the treat of walking through the throngs of people and buzzing streets. Street vendors are everywhere and each block on the sidewalk is home to a different shop. The culinary palette of Chinatown is outstanding, and not to mention cheap. However, my mother and I don’t speak any Chinese. I remember the time we went into a dimsum place. It was a tiny restaurant rumored to be delicious. People were milling everywhere and fighting for a table. Service was quick and abrupt and they didn’t have time or the language to explain what exactly we were ordering. Like Queequeg and Ishmael, that mystery was soon solved when a steaming plate of delectable dumplings came out. It’s an experience that all foreigners have had. 

Chapter 16
Dedicating oneself to anything is a big step. I used to have a friend, who unfortunately moved back to Korea, who wanted me to come volunteer with her. She taught Korean at a church in Oakland as part of their “Korean school” program on Saturdays. She wasn’t the most timely and responsible person, almost resembling Yojo. I was, however, in pursuit of a fun volunteer.  Reluctantly I signed up and met a person who has similar characteristics to Captain Pelag. The woman who finally decided to put me on volunteer staff was suspicious of my dedication and prospects. She asked me many questions detailing the rigor of this volunteer. Ishmael hasn’t met Captain Ahab and isn’t fully aware of what he signed up for. I wasn’t either and maybe I would have taken a longer time to consider what I was getting myself into. However, life is all about the struggles that occur and help us to grow. We never know what we sign up for until the journey is over. Only once it’s over can we look back and see if we made regretful decisions or not, as Aristotle stated in On Happiness
There are a multitude of different personalities represented in a few characters. Captain Ahab is one character who represents the darker side of the book. I like the way Ishmael is open minded towards him even with the infamous name and the horrible rumors. It’s funny how Captain Pelag mentions that he’s married to a sweet girl but yet carefully mentions that the worst thing to possibly do is wrong him. Captain Ahab reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. Andrea Sach’s job is a job “a million girls would die for” and yet all the people working for the prestigious Miranda Priestly have to remind themselves to constantly censor themselves with lavish compliments to and fro. It bring’s back Philbrick’s point that although Moby Dick was written 150 years ago, the ideas are more relevant today. I never thought I would compare a book about a whaling journey to the experience of working for a ruthless magazine editor but it’s possible because there are so many timeless themes and traits that are found in all of us in his characters. 

Chapter 17
I also agree with the fact that religion should not hurt you. I am respectful of many religions and I consider myself open minded. However, once a religion starts to take a physical toll on your wellbeing, it is more of a problem. It was also emotionally charging to see Ishmael so frustrated and angry at the closed door. The cleaning maid was so fast to jump to conclusions of death because Queequeg was in the same room as the harpoon. She’s even quick to ask someone to make a sign about no suicides. This also showed the faith Ishmael had in Queequeg. This episode proved their friendship and its bond. Queequeg said that he would have died for Ishmael and Ishmael fought so hard to keep Queequeg alive. 

Chapter 18
It was remarkable to see that Queequeg proved that he was a valuable asset to the Pequod. It was slightly ironic to see that he was offered the 19th lay whereas Ishmael was grudgingly given the 300th lay. The other ironic part to that was the fact that Ishmael did not have to prove anything and did not have to produce paperwork. He was accepted even if he was not a Nantucketer and even if he knew nothing about whales and whaling. 
I’ve been in that situation where I’ve had to work that much harder to prove myself valuable. At the same time there are so many stereotypes that come with being Asian. The rules change all the time at someone else’s goodwill. Our cultures are different and like Queequeg, my name has also been butchered countless times. I admire the way that Queequeg doesn’t shy away from these people because he’s different. My aunt in Korea has two daughters and one is excellent at English. The other hates English but has no pride. She enjoys the process of learning and making mistakes and getting better, like Queequeg. 

Chapter 19
Melville, like Steinbeck, knew the Bible extremely well. Ahab was the king that wronged Elijah and these wrongs garnered him his infamous reputation. Here Elijah is reincarnated in the form of a beggar like man who speaks almost gibberish. The chapter is also titled “the Prophet” which Elijah of the Bible was. 
Elijah refused to bow down to the fake idols that Ahab commanded all men to bow down to. This Elijah brings a more cryptic message. It is obvious that he is warning Ishmael about the terrible man that Ahab is. 
So far, there are only glimpses at Ahab but mentions here and there of his name. It builds suspense because as the reader, I want to find out what kind of person he truly is. Ishmael is a good narrator in the fact that he doesn’t put his own opinions on facts and allows the reader to form their own opinions. 

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