This story takes place in GreatBritain, all over the eastern Atlantic Ocean and in the Indian Ocean, around theearly 1800s. It begins with Ishmael becoming extremely agitated. He decides togo out to sea on a whaling ship. In the port of New Bedford, he meets and sharesa room with a harpooner named Queequeg. The two of them become good friends, andagree to sail together. The day after they arrive at Nantucket, Ishmael beginssearching for a whaling ship getting ready to leave harbor.
Out of three shipsready to leave, he chooses the Pequod. The owners of the ship are Captain Pelegand Captain Bildad, and they are excited to hear of Queequeg from Ishmael andglad to let him join the crew. They are told the captain of the ship is namedAhab. Peleg and Bildad say that he is a good man, but because of some strangeillness, he is confined to his cabin. On Christmas day, and with Ahab still inhis cabin, the Pequod sets sail in the Atlantic.
As the weather begins to warmup several months after leaving port, Ahab is finally seen on deck. Thestrangest thing about Ahab is his peg leg, it is made of ivory. As the weekspassed by, Ahab started to become friendlier. One day, he called the crew beforehim. He tells them that the sole mission of the Pequod is to kill Moby Dick.
Moby Dick is a gigantic whale with a crooked jaw and a deformed forehead. He hasnever been defeated, and has attacked and sunk many large ships. Ahab admits hehates Moby Dick for taking his leg away, and he wants revenge. The crew agreesto this challenge, and swear to kill him. The only one who is not excited abouthunting for Moby Dick is Starbuck.
For many months, the Pequod sails South,through the Atlantic, around the Cape of Good Hope, and into the Indian Ocean. Along the way, they kill and drain the oil from every whale they encounter. Eachtime they meet another ship, Ahab begins the conversation with “Hast seenthe White Whale?”. Finally, after entering the Japanese sea, the Pequodencounters a whaling ship named the Enderby. The Enderbys captain had justrecently lost his arm to Moby Dick. Ahab becomes so excited at the news that hebreaks his ivory leg.
The ships carpenter builds him a new one. Once reachingthe waters around the equator, the Pequod meets another whaling ship, theRachel. They had seen Moby Dick, and had become separated from one of thewhaling boats during the battle. Ahab refuses to help them look for the missingmen. At last, Ahab spots Moby Dick. In the first day of fighting, the whale isharpooned many times, but escapes after smashing Ahabs boat.
On the secondday, the whale is harpooned again, but still escapes. On the third day, Ahabsharpoon pierces the whale, but the rope catches him by the neck and Moby Dickdrags him to the bottom of the sea. An angry Moby Dick rams and sinks the Pequod. Only Ishmael survives, and the Rachel rescues him.