“What the white whale was to
has been hinted,” says Ishmael. Hinted? Really? That may be
the biggest understatement in the history of literature. It would be like
saying Romeo liked Juliet, and
Frankenstein was grumpy.
“What he was to me [
as yet remains unsaid.” True. But not for long. The “as yet unsaid” will be
said in the next 25 paragraphs, including one sentence that runs
458 words. No joke. The Classics Slacker counted them for you. You’re welcome.
From what Ishmael has heard—and he’s heard a lot at this point—he will not be too fond of Moby Dick. It’s not so much the whale’s size, his ugly mug, or his taste for Ahab-kebobs. No. What terrifies
Ishmael the most is ’s
color. Hint: it’s white. “It was the whiteness of the whale that above all
things appalled me.” Whiteness is the worst part? Moby Dick Ishmael,
explain yourself: “But how can I hope to explain myself here, and yet, in some
dim, random way, explain myself I must.”
His explanation is indeed dim and random. But much like whale blubber, it all boils down to this: To Ishmael, some white things are good, but way more white things are bad.
For example, good white things are pearls and japonicas, bridal gowns and marble. Bad white things are albinos and polar bears. Good white things are horses and lambs wool and clerics’ robes. Bad white things are dead people and ghosts, fog and flags, shrouds and crosses. Not to mention “the muffled rollings of a milky sea; the bleak rustlings of the festooned frosts of mountains; the desolate shiftings of the windrowed snows of prairies.”
And whales. Of course.
discourse on the color white, the Classics Slacker has come up with her own list
of good white things and bad white things.
Good White Things:
1. Cottonelle toilet paper with aloe and vitamin E
3. Coconut macaroons
4. Down comforters
9. Rice pudding
Bad White Things:
5. Really bad: white panties under white pants
7. The sweet stuff inside Twinkies, Oreos, and Ho-Ho’s
9. Fluorescent light bulbs (the curly ones)
10. Frost bite
So there it is. The Classics Slacker has reached the same conclusion as
Ishmael. There are in fact more bad white things than good white things. It’s as clear as black and white.