The Equator

  • Brian R. Pellar
Part of the American Literature Readings in the 21st Century book series (ALTC)


In this chapter, Pellar discusses how Melville employed directional indicators of north, middle, and south that were clearly indicative of the current political climate that surrounded the writing of Moby-Dick. Chief among these, the term “middle” was used symbolically to indicate the divisive state of the country, the infamous middle passage of the slave trade, as well as the literal Mason-Dixon line that physically and culturally/politically separated the free-soil states in the North from the slave states in the South. Pellar also discusses the political symbolism of the fiery “season-on-the-line” (the equator), which divides the North from the South and which Melville chose the Pequod as Ship of State to sink on at the novel’s end.


Slave Trade Black Letter Gold Coin Slave State Middle Passage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Birk, John F. Tracing the Round: The Astrological Framework of Moby-Dick. London: Minerva Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  2. Bradley, David, “Our Crowd, Their Crowd: Race, Reader, and Moby-Dick.” Melville’s Evermoving Dawn: Centennial Essays. Edited by John Bryant and Robert Milder. Kent: Kent State University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  3. Fanning, Susan Garbarini, “‘Kings of the Upside-Down World’: Challenging White Hegemony in Moby-Dick.” “Ungraspable Phantom”: Essays on Moby-Dick. Edited by John Bryant, Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, and Timothy Marr. Kent: Kent State University Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  4. Garrison, William Lloyd, “The American Union.” The Liberator. January 10, 1845.
  5. Garrison, William Lloyd, “Letter to Louis Kossuth Concerning Freedom and Slavery in the United States in Behalf of the American Anti-Slavery Society.” 1852. Samuel J. May Anti-slavery Collection: HYPERLINK “http://dlxs.library.cornell.edu
  6. Garrison, William Lloyd, “No Compromise with Slavery: An Address Delivered in the Broadway Tabernacle, New York, February 14, 1854, by William Lloyd Garrison.” Samuel J. May Anti-slavery Collection: HYPERLINK “http://dlxs.library.cornell.edu
  7. Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. 1851. Edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker. New York: W. W. Norton, 1967b. Page numbers are to the 1967 edition.Google Scholar
  8. Melville, Herman. Redburn: His First Voyage. 1849. New York: Library of America, 1983b.Google Scholar
  9. Wallace, Robert K. Douglas and Melville: Anchored Together in Neighborly Style. New Bedford: Spinner Publications, Inc., 2005.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian R. Pellar
    • 1
  1. 1.BostonUSA

Personalised recommendations