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The Pequod is the fictional 19th century Nantucketmarker whaleship that appears in the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by Americanmarker author Herman Melville. The Pequod and her crew, commanded by Captain Ahab, figure prominently in the story, which after the initial chapters takes place nearly entirely aboard the ship during a long three-year whaling expedition in the South Pacificmarker and Indian Oceansmarker. Most of the characters in the novel are part of the crew of the ship, including the narrator Ishmael.

Descriptions of the ship appear throughout the novel, with certain chapters devoted more specifically to the working of the ship and its crew. The depiction of life aboard the ship, although fictionalized, was based on Melville's own experiences in whaling (specifically aboard the Achushnet in the 1840s) and thus can be taken in many ways as representative of mid-19th century Nantucketmarker whaling. The ship is ostensibly named for the Algonquian-speaking Pequot tribe of Native Americans who inhabited New Englandmarker along Long Island Soundmarker during the 17th century but who were annihilated during the Pequot War, "now extinct as the ancient Medes" (Ch. XVI). The reference to a doomed tribe highlights the fate of the ship and its crew in the novel. Melville somewhat based the story of the ship's ill-fated struggle with a sperm whale and its subsequent demise on that of the real-life whaleship Essexmarker.

Depictions of the ship from the novel

The ship is first encountered by Ishmael in Chapter XVI ("The Ship"), where Ishmael, after arriving in Nantucket with Queequeg, learns of three ships that are about to leave on three-year cruises (the other two are the Devil-Dam and the Titbit). Ishmael selects the Pequod among the three, and Queequeg ships with him, having already entrusted his own fate to Ishmael's decision. Ishmael initially describes the ship as old with advanced weathering from her many voyages. She is at least 50 years old, and was thus probably built in the 1790s. She is "of the old school, rather small if anything; with an old-fashioned claw-footed look about her." At the time of the story, the ship is already old and weathered by many voyages and encounters with typhoons: "her old hull's complexion was darkened like a French grenadier's, who has alike fought in Egyptmarker and Siberiamarker." Her decks appear "ancient..worn and wrinkled , like the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone in Canterbury Cathedralmarker where Beckett bled."

The ship is three-masted, like most Nantucket whalers of its day. The three masts of the ship are recent replacements, having been cut somewhere on the coast of Japanmarker after the previous ones were lost overboard in a gale.

The ship itself is decked out with teeth and bones of whales it has killed. In some chapters, it is said to be steered by a whalebone tiller, while in others it is depicted as being steered by a wheel. (Interestingly, both of the movie versions retain this anomaly, showing both steering elements aboard the same ship).

The ship is owned by a partnership among the Quaker captains Ahab, Bildad, and Peleg, as well as numerous other unspecified citizens of Nantucket, in particular "widows and orphans". Peleg has served as first mate for many years aboard her before obtaining his own command and later retiring from the sea.

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