There iscomplete ignorance where the person thinks that even though they do notunderstand it all they still know everything. Then others of us say that eventhough I am not sure about it I am knowledgeable to my ignorance. In Moby Dick,Ishmael’s ignorance can be related to my own in some ways. “The more Ipondered over this harpooner, the more I abominated the thought of sleeping withhim.
It was fair to presume that being a harpooner, his linen or woolen, as thecase might be, would not be of the tidiest, certainly not the finest. I began totwitch all over. ” In this passage we can see the ignorance that is present inIshmael’s character. Though he knows nothing of this harpooner, by the name ofQueequeg, he fears him. In an ideal scene this wouldn’t happen.
Judgement ofQueequeg happens before he even enters the book at a leading character andwithout Ishmael’s real knowledge. Ishmael states that his body begins totwitch, because he is so nervous and so afraid of the untidiness or barbaricqualities that this unknown character may possess. Unfortunately enough peopleactually think like that, even now over 100 years later. It’s amazing that wehaven’t picked up on this and tried to change. In my own life I know I amignorant, but I try to be knowledgeable instead.
However cases like this aremuch too common. When meeting someone for the first time I often characterizehow I think they are going to be by just things I have heard prior to themeeting, how other’s like this would act, or even a little assumption on whatthe name might bring in means of connotations. It’s sad, but unfortunately Iam sometimes guilty of it. One passage in this book that I specifically findintriguing is that in which Queequeg tells us that a high commander of amerchant ship that once was invited to a wedding feast in Queequeg’s homeland,the island of Cokovoko. At these specific feasts there could be found a sort ofpunch bowl in which fragrant water is contained and is a grand central ornamentof the feast. This commander took upon himself to wash his hands in the bowl.
Hedid this because he was ignorant of the purpose it actually proved, but beforewe can laugh at this we would have to turn the tables. The first time thatQueequeg encountered a wheelbarrow was at Sag Harbor in which the owners of theship lent a wheelbarrow to Queequeg to help carry his chest. Not ever seeing oneof these, he put the chest on it and then marches up the wharf shouldering thewheelbarrow. Both of these are examples of ignorance but we see both sides now. One from how someone such as Queequeg would do then something that we wouldtypically laugh at, because of course we know the proper way to use awheelbarrow. The other account may not be as humorous, because as you sit therereading this passage you could think to yourself, “Hey, I might have done thesame thing if I hadn’t been told what the punchbowl-like container was.
“This is yet another example that I can reflect upon myself. From culture toculture you get a very different way of doing things, saying things, and just ageneral difference. The way I experienced this was this past summer when Istayed in Germany for a month. There I attended 10th grade classes for the fourweeks of my stay. I was completely ignorant of differences in our systems.
Though my ignorance was not to the extreme that I thought I was better, I wasjust unaware of how things varied between Germany and the way we do things inthe United States. After a while of being there though and experiencing some ofthese differences I learned that maybe we don’t have everything exactly rightat home. Instead I was open to change, and I was more able to understand aperson’s differences instead of just looking at them funny when they mention away that conflicts with my way of doing something. Though ignorance will alwaysbe around, as time goes on maybe the ways to deal with it will get better. AsIshmael understands by stating that ignorance is the “parent of fear” peoplecan still be ignorant but knowledgeable at the same time.
If you admit toyourself that you are in fact ignorant of something then your chances of openingyour mind to further educated yourself about a certain difference increaseimmensely.