Well, everything! As a parent (and a primogeniture), naming my children was a little stressful! After all, the offspring will have to bear the joy or the burden of this name for possibly 100 years. I often wonder if authors go through a similar struggle when naming their characters. It is possible that these names could last for even longer than a “real” child. Melville’s characters are over 160 years old and still being talked about.
The names in Moby Dick run the gamut from funny (Stubb and Flask) to fun-to-say (Queequeg) to prophetic. Here are a few of my favorites.
Elijah – the prophet echoing the biblical Elijah and his words of warning to Ahab.
Gabriel – the “angelic messenger” ship that gives the prophesy that Ahab will join their first mate in the depths for taking on Moby Dick. (And I just might be a little partial to this name anyway – I gave it to my primogeniture.)
Ishmael – The cast-off son of Abraham in the bible, who was forced to wander in exile. How appropriate!
Fadallah – OK, this might be a stretch, and remember, I have no notes in my edition of the book, but does Melville include “allah” on purpose to make us think negatively or think of untruth?
And, my personal favorite, Rachel – Melville puts it best – “She was Rachel, weeping for her children, for they were not.”
I could go on and on with this post, but I’ll leave it to you. What were some of your favorite names in the book?