In Chapter 99 ("The Doubloon") of Moby Dick, Flask comments that the doubloon is worth 16 dollars, and, at two cents a cigar, that will get him 960 cigars. But if each cigar is two cents, then you can buy 50 for a dollar. 50 x 16 = 800, which isn't 960. Is this a math mistake on the part of the author, or a deliberate inclusion?

  • I interpret this as him having a plan to haggle a discount for bulk.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


The analysis in Cliffsnotes assumes that this is intended to portray the character's lack of mathematical proficiency:

Others see things they value as they peruse the coin, but they don't see themselves. The devout first mate, Starbuck, sees the Trinity. Stubb sees temporary wealth and mystery. Flask reveals his inability with simple math as he miscalculates how many of his beloved cigars he could buy with the doubloon. The coin reminds Queequeg of his tattoos and homeland. The "ghost-devil" Fedallah bows to the sun that he worships. Little Pip speaks in metaphors but seems to notice a universal human longing in the coin's images. For this moment, the doubloon is the center of the ship, its "navel."

(My emphasis)

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