Monkey Ropes

Monkey Ropes?
by Tripp Burwell -- October 3rd, 2014

“You have seen Italian organ-boys holding a dancing-ape by a long cord. Just so, from the ship’s steep side, did I hold Queequeg down there in the sea, by what is technically called in the fishery a monkey-rope, attached to a strip of canvas belted about his waist…

The monkey-rope was fast at both ends… so that for better or for worse, we two, for the time, were wedded, and should poor Queequeg sink to rise no more, then both usage and honor demanded that, instead of cutting the cord, it should drag me down in his wake…

I seemed distinctly to perceive that my own individuality was no merged in a joint stock company of two: that my free will had received a mortal wound, and that another’s mistake or misfortune might plunge innocent me into unmerited death or disaster…

I saw that this situation of mine was the precise situation of every mortal that breathes.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, “The Monkey Rope”

 

The voyage of the Pequod

 

 

The Voyage of the Pequod from the book Moby Dick by Herman Melville; one of a series of 12 literary maps based on British and American literature, produced by the Harris-Seybold Company of Cleveland between 1953 and 1964.  This image is from WikiCommons.

 

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