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Joined: Sep. 2002
||Posted on: Aug. 26 2009,09:11
Melville gives a short essay on a wooden, notched stick called "the crotch." It is something connected with the harpoons on the whaleboat, and important enough that he gives a separate notice of it, chapter LXIII.
He justifies such detail with the incipient,
Out of the trunk, the branches grow; out of them, the twigs. So, in productive subjects, grow the chapters.
Nineteenth century creative narratives certainly have their indulgences. Free association, stream of consciousness, all the basic Freudian concepts of the early 20th century are abundantly evidence in the mental behavior inherent in the literature of the previous century.
Be that as it may, this "crotch" tool is extremely important. Each whaleboat has two harpoons. Ideally, they are heaved into the whale one right after the other. However, it is often the case that the whale evades the second one. Instead, the second harpoon (connected to the same rope as the first one) is yanked into the water.
The loose blade is very dangerous--to the boats, the lines, and the whalers.
The "crotch" is a two-foot long stick that serves as a prop for the first harpoon at the nose point of the whaleboat. It sits on the crotcah, awaiting to be snatched up by the harpooner.
That's all. The crotch is like a rack, a holder, a prop to hold up the harpoon in readiness. The harpooner doesn't have to "fish" for it, on the boat floor, or on the sides. By means of the crotch, the harpoon is pointed forward, in the most facile position for the harpooner.
It is a notched stick of a peculiar form, some two feet in length, which is perpendicularly inserted into the starboard gunwale near the bow, for the purpose of furnishing a rest for the wooden extremity of the harpoon, whose other naked, barbed end slopingly projects from the prow. Thereby the weapon is instantly at hand to its hurler,
Just a detail in the equipment of the whaleboat. The practical justification in the narrative is a threatening prophecy of the future events.
All these particulars are faithfully narrated here, as they will not fail to elucidate several most important, however intricate passages, in scenes hereafter to be painted.