Published in 1974, “Blubber” is a Judy Blume novel that intertwines many adolescent themes: peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem. After giving an oral presentation on whales, one of the characters is given the unhappy nickname of “Blubber.”
Judy Blume’s tale takes place in Radnor, Pennsylvania. But back here in Dover, New Hampshire, our St. Thomas Aquinas students are discussing "blubber" in much more favorable terms. As part of the English Department’s annual study of Moby Dick, Honors and AP students set sail for the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts. Their hope was to understand all that Herman Melville detailed about the international whaling industry. Although Melville’s novel was not recognized as a literary masterpiece until the early 20th century, his insatiable interest and captivation with the grandeur of whales spurred many an adventure for him which fueled his writings.
While visiting the museum, English students learned of Melville’s intrigue with whaling and how his experiences aboard a ship made his famous novel both a masterpiece and a bit of a bane. Seeing the whale ship Lagoda (the world’s largest ship model) helped them understand how ships of the time were rigged and outfitted for extended voyages. They explored the Seamen’s Bethel and were struck by the monstrous size of whale skeletons that were visible- and the knowledge that, with extended layers of blubber, their real size was hard to imagine. The Saints also explored the newly opened Mariner’s House, which has been beautifully restored.
No STA “field trip” is complete without some faculty fun and flair on the bus. Singing sea shanties and whaling songs under Mrs. Collins’ lead is a novel experience in and of itself.