"Another point of difference between the male and female schools is still more characteristic of the sexes. Say you strike a Forty-barrel-bull-poor devil! all his comrades quit him. But strike a member of the harem school, and her companions swim around her with every token of concern, sometimes lingering so near her and so long, as themselves to fall prey."
Musing: Melville is teaching us about schools of whales and how they live together. Most schools divide by gender lines. I do find this little passage interesting. So when a dude whale is hit by a harpoon, the rest of the dude whales flee and leave him behind to fend for himself. If a chick whale is hit, her chicklettes stick with her. Melville adds that this can sometimes cause the helpful friend to fall victim to prey. Hmmmm - what is this saying about women? Should we flee to save ourselves? Should we stay to help a friend knowing that we too could be hurt? Quite the conundrum, huh?