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Coda: The whiteness of the bear

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Chapter Summary

The whiteness of the bear makes it a value magnet that attracts kings, making the bear an especially appropriate gift to them which will be repaid with gifts that also qualify as a görsemi, loaded with symbolic value that a lowly Icelander can cash out once he gets home. Whiteness is natural to polar bears; it is what most identifies them as a species. But Moby Dick’s whiteness makes him one of a kind and horrifying for being so singular. How uncanny the coincidence, though, that both Moby Dick and Audun’s Story are tales of obsession; and both obsessions are inseparable from rareness conferred by whiteness on certain animals, one yielding tragedy, the other the best of all possible worlds. Both are tales of the sea in very different senses; in one the sea is central, in the other it is a practical necessity both economically and narratively.

Keywords: Audun’s Story; bear; Moby Dick; whiteness



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