Race, Labor, and the Underclass

American Literary Traditions

Randy Bass: The Racial Unconscious in Moby-Dick

From the chapter, "Knights and Squires":

    As for the residue of the Pequod's company, be it said, that at the present day not one in two of the many thousand men before the mast employed in the American whale fishery, are Americans born, though pretty nearly all the officers are. herein it is the same with the American whale fishery as with the American army and military and merchant navies, and the engineering forces employed in the construction of the American Canals and Railroads. The same, I say, because in all these cases the native American liberally provides the brains, the rest of the world as generously supplying the muscles." ("Knights and Squires")

Associations: American expansionism, labor, underclass, Anglo Saxon supremacy. Implications of Ahab as a leader: his madness as blackness.