Moby-Dick, like any other novel, is complete with a plot sequence which essentially maps the layout of the story line. In the plot sequence, there are five major groups. Those five groups are the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and finally the resolution. Melville does an outstanding job of describing and conveying these in a flowing matter that is intense at some points, but surpassingly boring at others.
The plot sequence of Moby-Dick can be summarized easily when it is broken up and analyzed. While the exposition and rising action may be a little lengthy and at some times rather monotonous, the climax is very intense. But the reader will probably gain the most insight into what the novel means overall from the falling action and resolution.
During the exposition, Ishmael describes himself and why he plans on joining a whaling voyage at sea so as to sort of introduce us to him and to set the stage for other characters to be introduced such as Queequeg at the Spouter Inn.
As for the rising action, this takes up most of the novel, at least three fourths of it anyway. Many adventures are described to us from Ishmael as the story progresses. Some of the more notable events that take place include when Ishmael and Ahab first meet and the almost frightened feeling that takes over Ishmael, when Ahab describes the purpose of his voyage, when various ships are encountered such as the Enderby and the Rachel, and when the Pequod is overtaken by a typhoon. All these events and a few others not mentioned help to build the rising action and gain more and more interest from the reader.
The climax is definitely one of the most intense sections of the book, however not one of the longer. It lasts for a good three chapters, and keeps the reader focussed in on every detail, unlike other parts of the book that can get so repetitive and boring its unbelievable. The climax consists of the main chase and battle with Moby-Dick himself. In this part of the novel, each of three days are discussed. On the first day of the chase, the men spear the whale with their harpoons, but without success. Also, Ahabs boat is crushed by the white whale. The second day proves to be a bit more successful. All the boats are able to harpoon the whale, however Ahabs boat is once again hit by the whale and is turned over. The third and final day, Ahab manages to throw his harpoon into the side of Moby-Dick. The other two boats are told to go back to the ship by Ahab, while he stays to fight the whale. Then Moby-Dick rams the Pequod and destroys it, and soon after Ahab manages to stab him with another Harpoon. However, the rope attached to that harpoon catches Ahab and the whale carries him down to his death.
The falling action is rather brief in description. Ishmael describes how the ship sinks pretty graphically. By this time the reader is made aware that Ahab was hunting a whale that sought not to destroy him, but rather it was him that was insanely seeking to kill the whale of whom had no desire to destroy Ahab. The falling action has to be one of the best parts of the book, because the reader learns so much from it with so little use of words.
The resolution is quite brief just as the falling action is. Ishmael once again makes it clear to us that Ahabs wild voyage with a purpose and cause that were quite mad, accounts for nothing in the greater scheme of things. He especially makes this clear when he states that the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago. Also, it is worthy of noting that the Rachel, a ship the crew had encountered earlier in the voyage, rescues Ishmael.