Chapter 17- The Ramadan, where there is much confusion and talk of dyspepsia

by Buxton Brown

Ishmael has secured a job upon the Pequod, we have met two captains, yet there is no sign of this elusive Ahab.

From the last chapter, in reference the biblical character of the same name, “When that wicked king was slain, the dogs, did they not lick his blood?”

Once I am finished with this project, maybe I shall undertake the bible, old testaments and new, in a similar fashion. What could be more delightfully torturous?

Ramadan. A month, a ritual, one of the five pillars of Islam, a lunar thing, and rooted in the Arabic word for heat or dryness, and involves prayer and fasting. This is all according to the Prophet of Lazy People Everywhere, WIKIPEDIA. But as some believe in their deities, I believe in people.

Queequeg has himself a little 24 hour Ramadan, where he locks himself in the room at the Inn, remains motionless for sometime, fasts (duh), freaks out Ishmael who then fetches Mrs. Hussey the indefatigable inn keeper, they break down the door, everything is still fine, Ishmael loses sleep because he can be such a timid chump at times, they have a pow-wow about it because that’s what friends do and because Ishmael is concerned about his friends crazy behavior, and everything is ultimately fine because why shouldn’t it be?

Funny thing though, the chapter is titled The Ramadan, but Hermano Melville never mentions Islam and I got the distinct impression that Queequeg was of the unnamed cannibal-worshipping-wooden-totem faith. I can only assume this is intentional, because the weight of Hermano Melville’s brain, humanity, and comprehensive world-view would crush a mere mortal, but why? Oh yea, he also refers to it as a Fasting and Humiliation. Cheers.

Some choice words from Hermano Melville, via our dear narrator Ishmael.

“… for I cherish the greatest respect towards everybody’s religious obligations, never mind how comical, and could not find it in my heart to undervalue even a congregation of ants worshipping a toadstool.”

“… and Heaven have mercy on us all- Presbyterians and Pagans alike- for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”

I like how the word Pagan was capitalized. Next.