Chapter 1: Day 5: Loomings
“But being paid, - what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvelous considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! How cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition.”
Musings: Man, - head blown this morning! That Melville. He is giving me a clue into how to read Ishmael.
Ishmael, in the paragraph before the quote above, brags that he never goes to sea as a passenger. He goes as a sailor and likes to be paid for his travels. After Ishmael gloats about his choice to be paid rather than to pay, he then reminds us that for Christians, money is the root of all evil. The Biblical verse about a camel entering heaven through the eye of a needle being easier than a rich man entering the kingdom is here as well.
But we see an extension of theme come into play – that Christians do not always practice what they preach – and we see that Ishmael can also be wishy-washy in his thinking. Our beloved narrator has just said money is foul, passengers who pay to travel are foul, but earning money is okay. Complex, indeed. The ironic truth is that money may be the root of all evil, but paying or paid, we need money all the same.
I’m sensing Melville is hinting that both Christians and Ishmael may not always practice what they preach. What a fun ride this trip on Moby-Dick is becoming.