''Pequod'' is a fictional 19th-century Nantucket whaling ship
that appears in the 1851 novel ''Moby-Dick
'' by American
author Herman Melville
. ''Pequod'' and her crew, commanded by Captain Ahab
, are central to the story, which, after the initial chapters, takes place almost entirely aboard the ship during a three-year whaling
expedition in the Atlantic
and South Pacific
oceans. Most of the characters in the novel are part of ''Pequod''s crew
, including the narrator Ishmael
Ishmael encounters the ship after he arrives in Nantucket and learns of three ships that are about to leave on three-year cruises. Tasked by his new friend, the Polynesia
(or more precisely, Queequeg's idol-god, Yojo), to make the selection for them both, Ishmael, a self-described "green hand at whaling," goes to the Straight Wharf and chooses the ''Pequod''.
It is revealed that ''Pequod'' was named for the Algonquian
tribe of Native Americans
, decimated and scattered in the early 1600s by the Pequot War
and by the epidemic that preceded it. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe
(Western Pequot tribe) and the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation
still inhabit their reservation in Connecticut
''Pequod'' has endured the years and the elements, but not without sustaining damage. The ship has a quarterdeck
and a forecastle
and is three-masted like most Nantucket whalers of the time, but all three masts are replacements, taken on when the originals were lost in a typhoon off Japan
''Pequod'' is not unlike Ahab in this respect, since many of the rest of these missing elements have been replaced by the bones of the whales she hunts. She is not a new vessel, and with age would usually come some veneration and respect, which Ishmael tries to convey by using several historical references in his description of her. But in ''Pequod''s case this has been negated by the thick veneer of barbarity that has been overlaid onto the ship in the form of fantastic scrimshaw
embellishment. Far from enjoying mere utilitarian replacements out of available whalebone, she has been ornately decorated, even to the whale teeth set into the railing that now resemble an open jaw. Like a fingerbone necklace on a cannibal, these adornments are clear evidence of ''Pequod''s success as a hunter and killer of whales.
The principal owners of the vessel are two well-to-do Quaker
retired whaling captains, therefore "the other and more inconsiderable and scattered owners, left nearly the whole management of the ship's affairs to these two."
Peleg served as first mate
under Ahab on ''Pequod'' before obtaining his own command, and is responsible for all her whalebone embellishments.
The depiction of life aboard the ship was based on Melville's own experiences in whaling (specifically aboard the ''Acushnet'' in the 1840s) and thus can be taken in many ways as representative of mid-19th-century Nantucket whaling.
Category:Whale collisions with ships