ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)
[personal profile] ambrmerlinus
Some of you may have noticed I skipped Chapter 98: Stowing Down and Cleaning Up. While this oversight was purely accidental, I can assure you absolutely nothing of value was lost. If it's really bugging you, SparkNotes can help you out.

Chapter 105: Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish?–Will He Perish?

Short answer: yes, but Ishmael doesn't know that because he is from the past.

First, Ishmael takes the question asked by the chapter-heading very seriously, and assures the reader that whales are not shrinking, though they may be smaller than the fossils of their ancestors.

Then we get into population counting. Ishmael makes a comparison to the near-extinction of bison on the North American plains, and for one wild, beautiful moment I thought to myself, "My God, he gets it! He knows what fate will befall him and his precious whales!"

But no, Ishmael just wants to let the reader know that what happened to the bison could never ever possibly happen to the whales because whales are way cooler than bison, you guys.

So it goes.

But if the whales aren't dying out, then why are they disappearing?

pg. 488: Furthermore: concerning these last mentioned Leviathans, they have two firm fortresses, which, in all human probability, will for ever remain impregnable. And as upon the invasion of their valleys, the frosty Swiss have retreated to their mountains; so, hunted from the savannas and glades of the middle seas, the whale-bone whales can at last resort to their Polar citadels, and diving under the ultimate glassy barriers and walls there, come up among icy fields and floes; and in a charmed circle of everlasting December, bid defiance to all pursuit from man.

See? The whales aren't dead, they're just hiding!

In conclusion, it's super weird reading this chapter from the perspective of a person in the future who knows what happens to whale populations once humans get really good at hunting them.

Chapter 106: Ahab's Leg

Back to the plot, when Ahab left the Samuel Enderby and arrived back on the Pequod, he was so furious in his movements that he splintered his ivory leg. This causes Ahab great concern, for very good reasons.

pg. 490: For it had not been very long prior to the Pequod's Sailing from Nantucket, that he had been found one night lying prone upon the ground, and insensible; by some unknown, and seemingly inexplicable, unimaginable casualty, his ivory limb having been so violently displaced, that it had stake-wise smitten, and all but pierced his groin; nor was it without extreme difficulty that the agonizing wound was entirely cured.

So, yeah, that's the reason Ahab was holed up in his cabin for the beginning of the voyage. Because he got stabbed in the groin by his own leg.

Words cannot express my cringing.

Anyway, now that his current leg is splintery, Ahab wastes no time in getting a new one made. Which makes a nice segue for Ishmael to tell us all about–

Chapter 107: The Carpenter

So what does the carpenter do on the ship, Ishmael?

pg. 493-494: A belaying pin is found too large to be easily inserted into its hole: the carpenter claps it into one of his ever-ready vices, and straightway files it smaller. A lost land-bird of strange plumage strays on board, and is made a captive: out of clean shaved rods of Right Whale bone, and cross-beams of Sperm Whale ivory, the carpenter makes a pagoda-looking cage for it. And oarsman sprains his wrist: the carpenter concocts a sooting lotion. Stubb longed for vermillion stars to be painted upon the blade of his every oar; screwing each oar in his big vice of wood, the carpenter symmetrically supplies the constellation. A sailor takes a fancy to wear shark-bone ear-rings: the carpenter drills his ears. Another has the toothache: the carpenter pulls out pincers, and clapping one hand upon his bench bids him be seated there; but the poor fellow unmanageably winces under the unconcluded operation; whirling round the handle of his wooden vice, the carpenter signs him to clap his jaw in that, if he would have him draw the tooth.

One wonders why they bother to hire anyone else to be aboard the ship, seeing as how the carpenter seems to be capable of literally anything.

Chapter 108: Ahab and the Carpenter

This chapter employs the "suddenly Shakespeare!" format once again. Not sure how I feel about that, but whatevs.

The carpenter makes Ahab's new leg, sneezing all the while. He also has no name.

Ahab, meanwhile, comes along to talk to the carpenter. He makes mention of the ship's blacksmith, who he calls "Prometheus." (Personally, I think Hephaestus would make more sense, but what would I know.) Then he goes on a bit of a tangent, saying how he would ask the blacksmith to build him an enormous, perfect man.

Coming back to the topic at hand, Ahab compares the phantom limb sensation in his missing leg to the carpenter's real leg, lining the other man's limb up with his own stump. Ahab thinks this is weird, what does the carpenter think?

pg. 499: I should humbly call it a poser, Sir.

Ahab wanders away, mumbling about Greek gods and Roman auctions, leaving the carpenter to his own devices. The carpenter has this to say on the subject.

pg. 499-500: Stubb knows him best of all, and Stubb always says he's queer; says nothing but that one sufficient little word queer; he's queer, says Stubb; he's queer–queer–queer; and keeps dining it into Mr. Starbuck all the time–queer, Sir–queer, queer, very queer.

Fairest description of Ahab I've heard yet.

Chapter 109: Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin

I'm pretty sure there's a fanfic out there with that title.

Anyway, in this chapter, Starbuck confronts Ahab about an oil leak in the hold. Starbuck wants to stop the ship and focus on fixing the problem before it becomes a disaster; Ahab wants to catch his white whale and will have none of it. They go back and forth, Starbuck arguing "let's do our damn jobs" and Ahab essentially shrieking "WHITE! WHALE! HOLY! GRAIL!" over and over again until–

pg. 502: Ahab seized a loaded musket from the rack (forming part of most South-Sea-men's cabin furniture), and pointing it towards Starbuck, exclaimed: "There is one God that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod. –on deck!"

So, yeah. That happens.

Starbuck backs off, and once he's gone, Ahab reconsiders his position and decides to fix the oil leak in order to avoid an outright mutiny.

This voyage is totally going to end well, you guys. I can feel it in my bones.

---

And now, pictures to go with words!



[Image description: Our brave Queequeg, a pseudo-Maori warrior with the tattoos to prove it, in a Victorian riding outfit, looking dapper as fuck. He's got a top hat, riding boots, jacket, tight pants, riding crop – the whole shebang.]

Part 1 of a commission for [profile] drayexmachina. If you would like a commission of your own, the info is here!

---

For more adventures in Moby-Dick, check out the Moby-Dick, or The Rant tag. Alternatively, you can start from the beginning.

Date: 2011-10-04 05:57 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
I... didn't actually notice. ^^;

Also, the carpenter is amazing.

So is Queequeg, but you hardly need me to tell you that! XD

Date: 2011-10-04 08:51 pm (UTC)
fadeaccompli: (determination)
From: [personal profile] fadeaccompli
I think we can live without the chapter on cleaning up.

Also, Queequeg in riding outfit is awesome. (And frankly, one can put almost any prepositional phrase in the 'in riding outfit' slot and still have a true sentence.)

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