Chargement de l'audio en cours

Cacher la barre d'outils



Reading corner

Moby Dick

Moby Dick, Herman Melville, 1851.

Holding a light in one hand, and that identical New Zealand head in the other, the stranger entered the room, and without looking towards the bed, placed his candle a good way off from me on the floor in one corner, and then began working away at the knotted cords of the large bag I before spoke of as being in the room. I was all eagerness to see his face, but he kept it averted for some time while employed in unlacing the bag’s mouth. This accomplished, however, he turned round — when, good heavens! What a sight! Such a face! It was of a dark, purplish, yellow colour, here and there stuck over with large blackish looking squares. Yes, it’s just as I thought, he’s a terrible bedfellow; he’s been in a fight, got dreadfully cut, and here he is, just from the surgeon. But at that moment he chanced to turn his face so towards the light, that I plainly saw they could not be sticking-plasters at all, those black squares on his cheeks. They were stains of some sort or other. At first I knew not what to make of this; but soon an inkling of the truth occurred to me. I remembered a story of a white man — a whaleman too — who, falling among the cannibals, had been tattooed by them. I concluded that this harpooneer, in the course of his distant voyages, must have met with a similar adventure. And what is it, thought I, after all! It’s only his outside; a man can be honest in any sort of skin. But then, what to make of his unearthly complexion, that part of it, I mean, lying round about, and completely independent of the squares of tattooing. To be sure, it might be nothing but a good coat of tropical tanning; but I never heard of a hot sun’s tanning a white man into a purplish yellow one. However, I had never been in the South Seas; and perhaps the sun there produced these extraordinary effects upon the skin. Now, while all these ideas were passing through me like lightning, this harpooneer never noticed me at all. But, after some difficulty having opened his bag, he commenced fumbling in it, and presently pulled out a sort of tomahawk, and a seal-skin wallet with the hair on. Placing these on the old chest in the middle of the room, he then took the New Zealand head — a ghastly thing enough — and crammed it down into the bag. He now took off his hat — a new beaver hat — when I came nigh singing out with fresh surprise. There was no hair on his head — none to speak of at least — nothing but a small scalp-knot twisted up on his forehead. His bald purplish head now looked for all the world like a mildewed skull. Had not the stranger stood between me and the door, I would have bolted out of it quicker than ever I bolted a dinner. Even as it was, I thought something of slipping out of the window, but it was the second floor back. I am no coward, but what to make of this head-peddling purple rascal altogether passed my comprehension. Ignorance is the parent of fear, and being completely nonplussed and confounded about the stranger, I confess I was now as much afraid of him as if it was the devil himself who had thus broken into my room at the dead of night. In fact, I was so afraid of him that I was not game enough just then to address him, and demand a satisfactory answer concerning what seemed inexplicable in him. Meanwhile, he continued the business of undressing, and at last showed his chest and arms. As I live, these covered parts of him were checkered with the same squares as his face; his back, too, was all over the same dark squares; he seemed to have been in a Thirty Years’ War, and just escaped from it with a sticking-plaster shirt. Still more, his very legs were marked, as if a parcel of dark green frogs were running up the trunks of young palms. It was now quite plain that he must be some abominable savage or other shipped aboard of a whaleman in the South Seas, and so landed in this Christian country. I quaked to think of it. A peddler of heads too — perhaps the heads of his own brothers. He might take a fancy to mine — heavens! look at that tomahawk!

Moby Dick, Herman Melville, 1851.

Voir les réponses


a) How many characters are there in the scene?

b) Explain why the narrator couldn't see the man's face?

c) Which emotions does the narrator experience when he first saw the man?

d) How does the narrator first explain the man's appearance?

e) What do you learn about his skin?

f) Which feeling does the narrator experience at the end of the passage? How does he justify it?

g) What does the narrator imagines about the past of the stranger?

Bow of the ship Essex after striking a whale, 1820.
Bow of the ship Essex after striking a whale, 1820.

Your time to shine!

Transform the scene into a comic strip. Then, present it to the class.

You can use,,,


Make sure you understand the text by answering the questions

How do you imagine the characters presented? Draw his physical portrait. Imagine his personality.

Organize your arguments.

Méthode je m’exprime à l’oral p. 240
Précis de communication p. 252

Connectez-vous pour ajouter des favoris

Pour pouvoir ajouter ou retrouver des favoris, nous devons les lier à votre compte.Et c’est gratuit !

Livre du professeur

Pour pouvoir consulter le livre du professeur, vous devez être connecté avec un compte professeur et avoir validé votre adresse email académique.

Votre avis nous intéresse !
Recommanderiez-vous notre site web à un(e) collègue ?

Peu probable
Très probable

Cliquez sur le score que vous voulez donner.

Dites-nous qui vous êtes !

Pour assurer la meilleure qualité de service, nous avons besoin de vous connaître !
Cliquez sur l'un des choix ci-dessus qui vous correspond le mieux.

Nous envoyer un message

Nous contacter?