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Chapter 130: The Hat

We’re coming up on the end of all things, and the book seems aware of this.

pg. 562: In this foreshadowing interval too, all humor, forced or natural, vanished. Stubb no more strove to raise a smile; Starbuck no more strove to check one. Alike, joy and sorrow, hope and fear, seemed ground to finest dust, and powdered, for the time, in the clamped mortar of Ahab’s iron soul. Like machines, they dumbly moved about the deck, ever conscious that the old man’s despot eye was on them.

Ahab himself, meanwhile, has stopped going to his cabin entirely and paces the deck day and night.

pg. 564: the monomaniac old man seemed distrustful of his crew’s fidelity; at least, of nearly all except the pagan harpooneers

Now might be a good time to point out that when this book was written the trope of non-white good characters being fiercely loyal to white protagonists was all the rage. This is because of reasons, including but not limited to the idea that white people were responsible for guiding non-whites into a civilized lifestyle, and the good non-whites would be grateful for it.

I probably don’t have to tell you that line of thinking is a big fat load of bullshit, but I figured I’d mention it just in case.

Since Ahab doesn’t trust the rest of the crew (save the harpooneers) to spot the white whale, he makes a basket to sit in and look out at the ocean for himself. But who shall hoist the basket?

pg. 565: he looked round upon his crew, sweeping from one to the other; pausing his glance long upon Daggoo, Queequeg, Tashtego; but shunning Fedallah; and then settling his firm relying eye on his chief mate, said,–“Take the rope, Sir—I give it into thy hands, Starbuck.”


But no, Starbuck once again refuses to take the sensible course of action and simply hoists Ahab up into the rigging to search for the whale. While he’s up there, his hat falls off. It’s all very symbolic, I assure you.

Chapter 131: The Pequod Meets the Delight is not as delightful as it sounds.

Much to Ahab's glee, the Delight has recently encountered Moby Dick. According to the Delight's captain...

pg. 567-568: "Then God keep thee, old man–see'st thou that"–pointing to the hammock–"I bury but one of five stout men, who were alive only yesterday but were dead ere night. Only that one I bury; the rest were buried before they died; you sail upon their tomb."

Foreshadowing, etc.

Chapter 132: The Symphony is a whole lot of scene-setting and not much else. Still, it's very good scene-setting.

pg. 568: the robust and man-like sea heaved with long, strong, lingering swells as Samson's chest in his sleep.

Ahab is much the same as last chapter; Ishmael describes his brain as a burnt-out crater. The entire cast seems to be mourning their own imminent demise.

pg. 569: From beneath his slouched hat Ahab dropped a tear into the sea; nor did all the Pacific contain such wealth as that one wee drop.

He addresses Starbuck with his woes, lamenting the general suckiness of being a captain and how it pretty much means you will never set foot on dry land for more than a year at a time ever again.

pg. 570: away, whole oceans away, from that young girl-wife I wedded past fifty, and sailed for Cape Horn the next day, leaving her one dent in my marriage pillow–wife? wife?–rather a widow with her husband alive! Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Starbuck;

Starbuck, catching this moment of weakness in Ahab, thinks this might make a great last-minute opportunity to talk some sense into the old bastard.

pg. 571: "Oh, my Captain! my Captain! noble soul! grand old heart, after all! why should any one give chase to that hated fist! Away with me! let us fly these deadly waters! let us home! Wife and child, too, are Starbuck's–wife and child of his brotherly, sisterly, play-fellow youth; even as thine, Sir, are the wife and child of thy loving, longing, paternal old age! Away! let us away!–this instant let me alter the course! How cheerily, how hilariously, O my Captain, would we bowl on our way to see old Nantucket again! I think, Sir, they have some such mild blue days, even as this, in Nantucket."

To which Ahab replies, "lol no."

pg. 572: Ahab crossed the deck to gaze over on the other side; but started at two reflected, fixed eyes in the water there. Fedallah was motionlessly leaning over the same rail.

Well that's good and creepy.


Amateur book cover design ftw.


For more adventures in Moby-Dick, check out the Moby-Dick, or The Rant tag. Alternatively, you can start from the beginning.
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ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)

February 2012

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