No one wanted to spend a story, let alone a stout and serious novel, on Moby Don, the Red Whale.
I suppose to some he looked like an oceanic blemish or the largest mammalian equivalent of a clown's nose.
At any rate, Moby Don engendered fear, induced obsession, in no one.
Harpooners believed him to be diseased. Lookouts in the crows' nests cried, "There she blows--oops; never mind!" First mates labeled Moby Don bad luck. Captains wrote snide remarks in their logs whenever Moby Don had been sighted.
Moby Don was not a great whale, at least if measured by literary standards. But he was unusual, and he was a darned good whale. He fathered several whale children and sang in his migratory pod. In other ways, he contributed to his pod. For example, he sometimes breeched, spiraling exuberantly, sending up the massive, rubbery red signal of his body. He spoke out against whaling. He endured a lifetime of harassment from sharks and found the very idea of munching a sailor's leg to be distasteful.
He could have lied and said it was a bad sunburn, his color. He could have made up a tall American tale about being the descendant of the legendary red whales from Atlantis. But that wasn't Moby Don's way. He accepted who he was. He was okay with being red and a whale and a red whale. He was Moby Don.