Generally on land, the rules of hunting are very distinct on who is hunted and who is left alone. Women and children are off-limits and considering that they are the foundation of the species, determining if it will continue or not, this rule is understandable. In the sea, the rules are changed and almost the opposite. The women and children become the prime pray, while the male whales are feared and avoided. Why would there be such a difference and does it make the hunters at sea more barbaric than those on land?
Continually Melvin brings up the question of who is the true villain, whale or man, and as the story of Moby Dick goes on, the perceptions from the start, the heroes being the crewmen, shifts slowly. The whale hunters are described more and more as vicious hunters, who look at the money versus the life they are taking. In having them go after the weak and young, Melvin may be adding to the idea that the whales are the victims and the hunters are the savages. Also, as discussed in class having the women go back for the whales that have already been snagged creates a strong contrast to the sailors, specifically Stubb, who abandon their shipmates because it is safer for them. Another question that might arise from this is, money is a great determinate, but how do the hunters come to terms with going against something that is universally accepted on land?