“I’ll Take Whales for $100, Alex”

If for some reason you decide to read Moby-Dick for yourself instead of relying on the Classics Slacker to do it for you, she advises that you grasp the pages of the Cetology chapter and rip them from your copy. For the rest of you, herewith is Ishmael’s marine biology lesson reconfigured into a fun game: “Whale Jeopardy!”

And the categories are:


The answers and questions, in the form of questions and answers, are already answered (see corresponding numbers). The Classics Slacker would not actually expect anyone to play “Whale Jeopardy!”

And the answers are:

      1. What is a Sperm Whale?
      2. What is a Right Whale?
      3. What is a Fin Back Whale?
      4. What is a Razor Back Whale?
      5. What is a Porpoise?
      6. What is a Humpback Whale?
      7. What is a Narwhale?

And the questions are:

  • This “vivacious” fish is “full of fine spirits” and “hailed with delight by the mariner.” He is considered “a lucky omen,” evoking “three cheers” from all who behold him. After you stab him to death, he produces a “fine and delicate” oil and his “meat is good eating.” (5)

  • This whale’s “grand distinguishing feature” is often “a conspicuous object.” He is “very shy,”  “not gregarious,” and does not get along with other whales. Perhaps because the other whales make fun of his fin. (3)

  • “Though no coward,” this whale “has never yet shown any part of him but his back, which rises in a large sharp ridge.” He has experienced many close shaves. (4)

  • “The most gamesome and light-hearted of all the whales,” he makes “more gay foam and white water” than all the rest. That is until “he is captured and towed into harbor” and drained of his oil, which as it turns out, “is not very valuable.” (6)

  • This whale is never wrong. Or at least he thinks he’s always right. What a jerk. (2)

  • Also known as the Unicorn whale, this whale’s “prodigious horn” was presented to Queen Bess by Sir Martin Frobisher upon his return from a voyage. The Earl of Leicester did likewise present one to her highness. Which caused the queen to say, “Great. Not another stupid horn.” (7)

  • The eponymous whale of a Herman Melville novel, the most dreaded assigned reading for high school students since 1852. Also named after the substance lustily desired by Ishmael, Queequeg, and the whole lot of them. (1)

And the final “Whale Jeopardy!” question is: After the Classics Slacker spent three and a half hours suffering though Ishmael’s crushingly boring and exceedingly protracted Cetology dissertation, only to discover his six-word abstract (“A whale is a spouting fish with a horizontal tale.”), she wanted to commit this violent act.

And the answer is: Distill Ishmael’s blubber into oil?

Right! That answer qualifies you to go on to the next post: “Pole Dancing.”