- Every body knows the famous opening line, "Call me Ishmael." But unfortunately, fewer people know the part that come immediately after:
Ishmael: Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
- Early on in the book, Ishmael is trying to gauge whether it's safe to sleep in the same room as a harpooner. The guy hasn't shown up yet, and Ishmael asks why. The innkeeper tells Ishmael that the harpooner is trying to sell his head, to the increasing frustration of Ishmael. Finally, Ishmael freaks out on the innkeeper, asking him to stop screwing around and tell him where the harpooner really is. The innkeeper tells Ishmael once again—the guy is selling his aboriginal shrunken head. Ishmael feels a little moronic after that.
- The entire Cetology chapter. While some of the scientific inaccuracies are simply due to the book predating marine biology, some of them definitely aren't, and the whole thing comes across as one long, enthusiastic rant by a more-than-usually Lemony Narrator who clearly doesn't know as much as he wants us to think but loves making shit up.
God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught — nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!
- The chapter Postscript (which is not, actually, a postscript to the book, but a postscript to an Author Tract that came before). Its mockery of monarchists is scathing enough that the English first edition removed the chapter entirely. In short, Melville compares coronation annointment with oil to putting oil dressing on a salad, and compares the aristocratic habit of oiling one's hair for vanity with being a dirty greaser. In nearly Shakespearean English.
- In Chapter 72, Stubb goes on a long rant when he finds out that Dough Boy tried to give Queequeg ginger tea instead of an actual drink.
- There is a chapter where a man makes himself a jacket of sorts out of the skin of a whale's penis.