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I've read Moby Dick before, and it always confounded me that Ishmael seems so educated, for being a common sailor. But, I think I found my answer. In chapter one, he talks about how hard it is to take orders if you come from a good family or if you were a schoolmaster ster, and he dwells on that particular thought for just a moment longer than a passing thought: "The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from a schoolmaster to a sailor..." Ishmael, it appears, was a teacher!

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