In his novel White Jacket - or The World in a Man-of-War, Melville meticulously describes life on the US frigate Neversink, drawing on his own experiences. The first-person narrator encounters a wide variety of situations on the ship, which is on a long voyage home, and becomes acquainted with various characters. It is made clear that life as a sailor is not an easy one and is associated with many duties, rigid structures and draconian punishments. Through his work in the rigging, the narrator can view the world on the ship from a different, freer perspective and gain exciting insights.
Overall, the novel is more of a string of small stories that all take place in the small world of the Neversink. In this book, Melville does not shy away from denouncing the punishment by flogging that prevailed at the time and makes his attitude, shaped by democracy and the enlightenment, clear.