Herman Melville: A Man Before His Time .
Herman Melville's masterpiece Moby Dick has become one of the most ingenious novels of the nineteenth century. It combines themes of fate, religion, work ethic, and race throughout the entire novel. Melville was before his time with his ideas of not judging a person only on their race. Melville believed that there was good in every person, and he illustrated this through his works, including Moby Dick. Moby Dick was published in 1851, a time when slavery was at a climax and the issue of race was a continuing conflict in America (Parker 55). Melville's characters Queequeg, Tashtego, Daggoo, Pip, and Fedallah are all of nonwhite decent, being from either oriental, black, or a mixture of many different cultures. Ishmael befriends the cannibal Queequeg which was a shock to many townspeople to see such different people as friends. The uncharacteristic ideas of race, religion and fate are shown throughout the entire book.
The first sign of separation and discrimination of race occurs in the second and third chapters. Ishmael, while looking for a place to stay, enters an African-American church talking about "the blackness of darkness." When Ishmael does find an inn, he is forced to share a bed with Queequeg. He immediately judges on appearances and routines and becomes frightened because of his tattooed body and his worship ritual. However, in the following chapters, even though he mentions Queequeg as a "savage" he notes the civilized ethics of the individual such as the way he takes time to shave, even though it is with his harpoon. He finds Queequeg again at the Whaleman's Chapel and they listen to the sermon that states that everyone should "preach the Truth in the face of Falsehood" (Melville 45). After this, they become great friends. Ishmael even worships Queequeg's idol with him, but only because, in his thinking, it was the "will of God" (Melville 48).