The crew lashes the sperm whale they have caught to the side of the ship to be dealt with in daylight. But the men are forced to poke with spades or kill the numerous sharks that attempt to devour the whale carcass. A thin and cellophane-like layer may be observed outside of the blubber, but this layer is only the skin of the skin.
The book is the sailor Ishmael 's narrative of the obsessive quest of Ahab , captain of the whaling ship Pequod , for revenge on Moby Dick , the giant white sperm whale that on the ship's previous voyage bit off Ahab's leg at the knee. A contribution to the literature of the American Renaissance , Moby-Dick was published to mixed reviews, was a commercial failure, and was out of print at the time of the author's death in Its reputation as a " Great American Novel " was established only in the 20th century, after the centennial of its author's birth. William Faulkner said he wished he had written the book himself,  and D. Lawrence called it "one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world" and "the greatest book of the sea ever written".