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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 13: Musings from a Sixth Reading of the Great Book

Chapter 9: Day 13: The Sermon

“For it is particularly written, shipmates, as if it were a thing not to be overlooked in this history, ‘that he paid the fare thereof’ ere the craft did sail. And taken within the context, this is full of meaning.

[. . . ] In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without a passport; whereas virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all countries.”



I love how Father Mapple calls us shipmates. It’s one of those things I hadn’t noticed in previous readings, or overlooked, or just didn’t care about. But the idea of us all sharing a ship bound for something incredible or tragic or both is becoming clearer to me this time around.

Jonah. He’s willing to pay for his journey to try to flee from God. A great metaphor about paying for our sins literally and figuratively, am I right? Remember, Ishmael is very proud of the fact that he does not pay when he goes on ship. So the emphasis is on Jonah’s act here and how willing we are to pay to run away from our duties. I read Jonah 1.3 by the way, and it’s clear Jonah does pay to board the ship. How much this futile fare will cost Jonah, I’m not sure he understands yet.

After I read this section, I was thinking of all the ways sin can travel freely with enough money behind it – Jeffrey Epstein, the [TR] Dumpster – fill in the blank. I’m constantly amazed at the way I can easily see today in Melville’s words. And so I roll along with him, wanting more from my shipmate, Father Mapple.

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