Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

The Whiteness Of The Whale

September 18, 2015


I remember in a high school English class, we delved into Herman Melville’s 1851 classic sea adventure, Moby Dick. The teacher asked the obvious question for all students of this literary giant to ponder: What is the meaning of the whiteness of the whale?

Well, the immediate response is the reference to good versus evil. In westerns, the good guys always wore white hats and the bad guys wore black ones but I don’t think the basic premise was to assume that Moby Dick was a good whale as opposed to being a bad one.

He wasn’t considered Baby Beluga for goodness sake.

So hidden meanings and reasonings start bouncing around the classroom. Why was he white? Was he an albino? Was he viewed as a peculiar apparition to the soul?

How about this for an answer: Who cares what color he was? Why not ask about the brownness of the Pequod sailing vessel? Or the color of the ocean water? Why not wonder why they weren’t after a giant octopus instead of a whale?

Moby Dick was white because he lacked pigmentation. Period.