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Chapters 72 - 73
In the chapter Monkey Rope, huge hooks have to be fastened to the whale. The harpooner normally does this job by climbing on to the dead whale’s slippery back. To keep him from falling into the sea, a sailor stands holding a monkey rope on the deck, which is tied around the harpooner. In this chapter, Queequeg climbs on the dead whale, while Ishmael holds the monkey rope. It is a dangerous job because below the head as there are a swarm of sharks hovering around.
In the next chapter, the Pequod sights a Right Whale. This time, two boats are lowered which are led by Stubb and Flask. As the boats come alongside on the sea, Stubb wonders aloud as to why Ahab wants a right whale for the oil from a right whale is not good at all. To this, Flask says that it is believed that a ship with a sperm whale’s head on one side and a right whale’s head will never capsize. The conversation shifts to Fedallah, who Stubb believes is a devil in disguise. Stubb decides to keep an eye on him.
In the chapter ‘The monkey-rope,’ it is only on the Pequod that harpooner and the holder on the deck are tied together. The monkey rope represents the deep bond of friendship that is developing between Ishmael and Queequeg. In a broader context, the rope symbolizes the bond between all human beings and their dependency upon each other, cutting across race, religion and national boundaries.
In the following chapter, the dualities that are constructed in the novel again surface with the capture of the right whale and its subsequent hanging opposite to the sperm whale.