Chapter Summaries – III

Etymology—The Quarter-DeckSunset—Does the Whale Diminish?—Ahab’s Leg—Epilogue

Ahab’s LegThe CarpenterThe Deck: Ahab and the CarpenterThe Cabin: Ahab and StarbuckQueequeg in his CoffinThe PacificThe BlacksmithThe ForgeThe GilderThe Pequod meets the BachelorThe Dying WhaleThe Whale-WatchThe QuadrantThe CandlesThe DeckMidnight, on the ForecastleMidnight, AloftThe MusketThe NeedleThe Log and LineThe Life-BuoyAhab and the CarpenterThe Pequod meets the RachelThe Cabin: Ahab and PipThe HatThe Pequod meets the DelightThe SymphonyThe Chase: First DayThe Chase: Second DayThe Chase: Third DayEpilogue

Ahab’s Leg

Turns out, Ahab splintered his ivory leg disembarking from the Samuel Enderby—back in his pivot-hole on his boat, he wheels around so fast to blame the steersman that he gives the leg another “twist and wrench”—leg’s no good no more: to his mind, anyway (the leg still looks okay)—Ahab’s always pretty careful about his ivory leg—with good reason: one time before leaving Nantucket he was found sprawled out on the ground having struck himself in the groin with the “violently displaced” prosthesis—any present trouble with his ivory leg traces back to the “former woe” of loosing his leg to Moby Dick—sometimes Joy issues from Grief, as by contrast, but sometimes Grief just begets “an eternally progressive progeny of griefs”—something deeper, truer, Ahab thinks, in “heart-woes” than in happiness—reads a trace of the signatures of the gods in the “ineffaceable, sad birth-mark in the brow of man”—secret of why Ahab kept below deck just before and after the Pequod set sail has to do, Ishmael reveals, with the “direful mishap” of loosing his leg—his “ever-contracting” circle of friends ashore know he isn’t over the injury, and invest this fact with all sorts of terrible ideas, but keep quiet—Ahab, in the present moment, is practical—calls for the ship’s carpenter—instructs him to fashion a new leg—has the mates lay out all the pieces of sperm whale one to choose the best piece—new leg needs be ready before the day is over—complete with all new harnesses and fittings—forge hoisted on deck so the blacksmith can help with any necessary metalwork.

The Carpenter

Look at a man in isolation, and he seems a god, but taken together humankind looks like a “mob of unnecessary duplicates”—Pequod’s carpenter, tho, “no duplicate”: special person—a jack-of-all-trades, as any ship’s carpenter should be on a three or four years’ voyage—usual duties include repairing broken boats, oars, ship planks and hardware—good at other “conflicting aptitudes,” too—all his work happens on a vice-bench attached to the backside of try-works—types of stuff the carpenter does: files down belay pins to fit in their holes, builds cages out of whalebone to house wayward birds, makes a “soothing lotion” for an oarsman’s sprained wrist, paints green stars on Stubb’s oars, pierces the sailors’ ears, removes teeth—“prepared at all points”—men are just another material he works—doesn’t mean the carpenter’s smart, tho—Ishmael characterizes him “stolid” (unexcitable, dull and impassive)—heartlessness tinged with humorousness—a stripped down man, as “uncompromised” as a newborn baby—works with a sort of “deaf and dumb” automaticity—“a pure manipulator”—all his brains (if he ever had any) long since oozed into his finger muscles—he’s like a Swiss army knife: appearing like a conventional blade but containing all manner of tools and contrivances—use him whatever way you wish, but he’s no robot—something works in him like a soul—the “life-principle in him” making him talk aloud to himself constantly.

Ahab and the Carpenter

At night on deck—carpenter at his vice-bench, filing on Ahab’s new leg in the vice—blacksmith working at the forge—carpenter soliloquizes to himself, interrupted at intervals by sneezing caused by the inhalation of the bone dust—his file seems soft and the bone seems hard: should be the other way round—switches files—bone dust makes him sneeze repeatedly—live wood and live bone don’t dust up like this “dead lumber”—tells the blacksmith to have some hardware ready—worried a bit about the knee joint, but he’ll get it sorted—given time, he could fashion a leg as fine as that of a mannequin in a shop window—got to size Ahab up before making his final cuts—Ahab advances—carpenter fits the leg to Ahab—Ahab admires his vices, clamps one to his hand to test it out—blacksmith stokes his forge, reminding Ahab of Prometheus—Ahab jeers that’ll have the blacksmith make a “complete man” out of metal—carpenter’s feeling a bit awkward—Ahab bullies him a bit—teases him for sneezing—wonders whether he can drive away phantom leg syndrome—carpenter’s intrigued—C: “You can still really feel your lost leg, captain?”; A: “Oh, yes, as you feel your own leg now.”—Ahab suggests the carpenter’s whole living substance might be a phantom one—“How long until my leg is done?!” he suddenly wants to know—about an hour—“Get to it, then!”—occasion of getting a new leg makes Ahab feel more bound to his body than ever—carpenter goes back to work—keeps thinking on how Stubb is always calling the captain “queer”—calls Ahab’s leg his wife—most people get through life without wearing their legs down, but Ahab is a “hard driver”—calls to the blacksmith to finish his work so they can complete the leg before Ahab returns—looks over his own work one last time—looks good: “like a real live leg, filed down to nothing but the core” —“Halloa!”—remembering Ahab wants a little oval slate installed in the leg to jot down navigational figures—resumes his chiseling, filing, and sanding.

Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin

Crew is pumping water out of the ship’s hold—spot some oil coming up with the water—“lo!” there’s a bad leak in one of the oil casks—Starbuck goes to report the leak to Ahab—footnote reveals that it’s customary for whaleships to periodically drench the oil casks in seawater and then pump it out to keep the wooden casks “damply tight” and to discover such leaks—the Pequod is approaching Formosa and the Banshee Isles, off the coast of China—nearing the Pacific—Ahab’s studying maps of the oriental archipelagoes and the Japanese coast—new leg braced against his desk, knife in his hand—he’s grumpy—Starbuck knocks on the cabin door—Ahab barks “Begone!”—Starbuck informs him off the leak—Ahab jeers at the suggestion that they pause work to find and secure it—suggests that they’re in search of something far more precious than oil—Ahab, enraged: “I’m all aleak myself. Aye!”—far more serious business than one leaky cask, but they’re not stopping to plug his leak–“What will the owners think?” Starbuck wonders aloud—Ahab couldn’t care less—Starbuck bravely advances into the cabin, suggests Ahab’s behavior is insulting to him—Ahab orders him away again—Starbuck doesn’t leave, wanting them to better “understand each other”—Ahab grabs a loaded musket and points it at Starbuck—announces himself lord over the Pequod, as God is lord over the earth—Starbuck calmly stands, cheeks reddening: “outraged, not insulted”—leaves Ahab with a warning: “beware thyself, old man”—as Starbuck leaves, Ahab murmurs to himself that the mate talks brave but remains obedient—paces around with the musket a bit, mulling over Starbuck’s warning (“‘Ahab beware of Ahab—there’s something there!’”), and returns it to the rack—calls after Starbuck: “Thou art but too good a fellow”—orders the ship’s sails furled to allow them to arrest the ship, empty the hold, and find the leak—Ishmael wonders about Ahab’s acquiescence to Starbuck—he wished, perhaps, to avoid the crew seeing “the slightest symptom of open disaffection, however transient, in the important chief officer of his ship”—fear of mutiny, in other words, brings Ahab back to reality—sails are furled and the ship’s progress paused for repairs.

Queequeg in his Coffin

Trying to find the leaky cask(s), the Pequod’s crew completely empty the cold, dank hold—the deck is littered with casks, and the hold echoes underfoot—the ship is top-heavy, like “a dinnerless student with all Aristotle in his head” (an analogy that many students can surely relate to)—Queequeg falls ill from working in the slime and muck—he wastes away until he is nothing but skin and bone (and tattoos)—Ishmael notices that as his body shrinks, Queequeg’s eyes seem to grow rounder and softer, “like the rings of Eternity”—Ishmael is awestruck—he feels as though he is looking into the face of a dying prophet—Queequeg requests that he have a coffin built to his size, because it reminds him of how his people send their dead away in canoes—Queequeg fills it with his harpoon, a paddle from his boat, some biscuits, a flask of water, some earth, a piece of sail, and his god Yojo—the crew mourns—but as soon as his coffin is prepared, Queequeg rallies—there is something he still must do, so he cannot die yet—so he doesn’t—his coffin makes him a nice sea-chest.

The Pacific

The Pequod passes the Bashee isles and enters the South Pacific—Ishmael waxes poetic about how serene, mysterious, and vaguely unsettling it is—“this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath; like those fabled undulations of the Ephesian sod over the buried Evangelist St. John”—it touches all, and is practically everlasting, the “tide-beating heart of earth”—unlike Ishmael, Ahab has no patience for philosophizing, only for whale-hunting—“Stern all! the White Whale spouts thick blood!”

The Blacksmith

Perth, the blacksmith, keeps his forge on deck after building Ahab his new leg, doing little jobs for the crew—he has a peculiar walk, a “slight, but painful appearing yawing in his gait,” and is the picture of patience and solemnness—the crew bugs him to tell them his life story, and eventually he agrees—one winter night, he was running between two country towns and lost the ends of both of his feet to frostbite—he had been an excellent artisan—but his home was lost, his family left him, and he was financially ruined owing to his alcoholism—he took to the seas to escape his past.

The Forge

Perth is hard at work at his forge when Ahab approaches—Ahab asks Perth why he isn’t burned by the sparks his hammer sends up—Perth replies: “Because I am scorched all over, Captain Ahab. I am past scorching; not easily can’st thou scorch a scar.”—Ahab is impressed and wonders how Perth can endure the pain without going mad, if the heavens themselves hate Perth by keeping him sane—he then asks Perth if, since he can smooth almost any seam in any metal, if he can smooth out Ahab’s brow—Perth replies that that is the one seam he cannot mend—Ahab changes the subject: he wants Perth to make him a harpoon from the stubs of horse-shoes (one of the best and most stubborn materials Perth has worked)—Ahab insists on doing part of the work himself (it is his harpoon, after all)—the harpoon’s barbs are to be made from Ahab’s shaving razors—he gets the harpooneers (Tashtego, Queequeg, and Dagoo) to temper the metal with their blood instead of water—“Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!”—finally, Ahab has a rather terrifying new harpoon made specifically for the White Whale.

The Gilder

The Pequod is in the midst of the serene Japanese fishing grounds—everyone on board is in a good mood thanks to the pleasant weather and beautiful atmosphere—even Ahab is affected, but in typical Ahab-fashion, he thinks that death and darkness are just around the corner—Starbuck, looking into the sea, ruminates on his faith—Stubb is as cheerful as ever.

The Pequod Meets the Bachelor

Soon after, the Pequod runs into another Nantucket ship, the Bachelor—the Bachelor is completely full up on oil casks and is headed for home, covered in “glad holiday apparel”—the sailors wear bits of red bunting attached to their hats, and the ship is covered in flags—the ship had apparently had a huge stroke of luck in finding whales after a large dry spell—the sailors are all celebrating, playing music, and dancing with a couple of Polynesian women that “eloped” with them from the islands—they want the Pequod, which looks quite dour by comparison, to party with—the Bachelor’s captain has heard of the White Whale but doesn’t think he really exists—Ahab is decidedly not amused: “Thou art too damned jolly.”

The Dying Whale

The day after meeting the Bachelor, the crew of the Pequod kill four whales (one of which was by Ahab himself)—when the excitement has died down and the sun begins to set, Ahab sits and watches the whale’s death throes—he is moved by how the whale turns to face the sun before it dies, as though worshiping the fire—“All thy unnamable imminglings float beneath me here; I am buoyed by breaths of once living things, exhaled as air, but water now.”

The Whale-Watch

Ahab’s boat stays by the whale Ahab killed all night, waiting for the Pequod—the waif-pole sticks out of the whale’s blowhole, with a lantern attached to the end, casting a faint light—all of the crew is asleep, except for Fedallah (now called “the Parsee”)—Ahab starts awake after having had the same dream as before—they discuss how Ahab will die; Fedallah says to him, “neither hearse nor coffin will be thine”—before Ahab can die on this voyage, he has to see two hearses: one “not made by mortal hands” and one made of wood from America—Ahab asks about Fedallah’s fate, to which he replies, “though it will come to the last, I shall still go before thee”—the Parsee’s eyes light up like fireflies in the dark as he says “Hemp only can kill thee”—Ahab figures he is referring to the gallows, and laughs: “I am an immortal then, on land and on sea!”

The Quadrant

Pequod nears the stretch of the Pacific known as “the Line”—crew makes to look busy and alert whenever Ahab’s on deck—all eyes on the doubloon—eager for the order to point the ship toward the equator—high noon, and Ahab measures latitude by watching the sun—days in the waters off Japan are cloudless and sun-bright—through the colored lenses of his quadrant, Ahab watches the sun reach peak meridian—the Parsee watches the sun, too, through half closed eyes, looking placid—Ahab finishes his measuring and jots down the ship’s latitude on his ivory leg—starts murmuring to the sun—knows where he is but wants to know where he will be—or, better, “Where is Moby Dick?”—the sun must see him, and Ahab sees the sun—fiddles with his quadrant a bit more, then calls it a “‘babies’ plaything’”—can only measure where and how things are, not where and how things will be—science itself, says Ahab, is a “vain toy”—why do men look to heaven when God gave them eyes to look straight ahead?—Ahab breaks the quadrant on the ship’s deck—says he won’t use it anymore—only going to use the “level” compass and the “level” log and line to find his way from now on—stomps on the quadrant for good measure—while the men gather to stare on Ahab, the Parsee rises—in his face there’s a “sneering triumph” (about Ahab) and a “fatalistic despair” (about himself)—he walks away—Ahab orders the ship turned—Starbuck watches Ahab—mutters to himself that all Ahab’s fieriness will turn to ash—Stubb hears him and supplies that Starbuck must mean “sea-coal”—Stubb’s not troubled by Ahab’s behavior—thinks he’s acting right—“‘live in the game, and die in it!’” he says.

The Candles

Deadly things lurk in warm climates—tigers in the jungle, tornadoes over Cuba, typhoons on the Japanese seas—the Pequod heads right into one—as darkness falls, the sea roars, thunder rolls, and lightening flashes—sails torn and flapping from “disabled masts”—on the quarterdeck, Starbuck watches the ship by each flash of lightening—Stubb and Flask instruct crew to secure rigging and boats—Ahab’s boat is busted anyway—Stubb shrugs it off: “‘the sea will have its way’”—starts singing a jaunty tune about the Ocean—“‘Such a funny, sporty, gamy, jesty, joky, hoky-poky lad, is the Ocean, oh!’”—Starbuck tells him to shut it—Stubb’s singing to stay brave and will only stop when someone cuts his throat—Starbuck asks if Stubb (“‘Madman!’”) sees what he sees: Ahab’s path to Moby Dick has steered them into the typhoon, and Ahab’s boat is stoved in right where he’d normally stand—Stubb doesn’t get it: “‘what’s in the wind?’”—Starbuck observes that the same storm that’s busting them up now could push them all the way home if they turned around—thunder rolls and a voice cries out—it’s “Old Thunder” (Ahab)—Ishmael reveals that ship masts are outfitted with “kindred rods,” which conduct lightening from the mast to the ocean in case of a strike—ends of these lightening rods are made like chains so they can be dropped into the ocean or pulled out again as the situation dictates—Starbuck notices that these chains are not overboard and orders them dropped—Ahab overrules him, says let them be—Starbuck calls attention aloft, “‘The corpusants!’”—ship struck by lightening—masts and yardarms aglow with white flame—Stubb gives up securing his boat as the ship tosses—sailors often curse, Ishmael observes, but rarely when a ship is hit by lightening do you hear a “common oath”—crew stands silent watching ship glow until the fire putters out—Starbuck wonders whether Stubb is worried yet—Stubb takes the event as an omen of good luck—the masts burned like three spermaceti candles: good sign!—fire engulfs the ship again—crew stands entranced again—Ahab calls out that the white flames are lighting the way to the White Whale—stands up on Fedallah, who’s crouched before him, and watches the masts glow—starts talking to the fire, as if worshipping it—lightening flashes repeatedly—Ahab starts talking to the fire again—calls it his father—doesn’t know who his mother is—glimpses something eternal through the fire—Starbuck shouts for him to look to the boat—Ahab’s harpoon, still propped in the crotch of his broken boat, is alight with the fire now—Strabuck tells Ahab that God is against him—wants to point the ship homeward—overhearing, the panicked crew makes to turn the ship—mutiny?!—Ahab grabs his burning harpoon and waves it at them like a torch—threatens to kill any sailor who hoists a sail—the men all fall back—Ahab reminds them of their oath to hunt Moby Dick—blows out the flame on his harpoon—the men flee from him, “in terror or in dismay,” as if from under a tree in a storm.

The Deck Towards the End of the First Night Watch

Ahab at the helm, Starbuck approaches—Starbuck wants to let down the main topsail yard because a piece of rigging is coming loose—Ahab says touch nothing—Starbuck wants to bring the anchors up—Ahab says touch nothing—orders that everything on the ship be secured with ropes and that nothing else be done—wind’s rising, but Ahab’s game—ships made to endure the wind—commotion aloft would be sublime if it weren’t just “colic”—“medicine” will soothe the situation in time.

Midnight—The Forecastle Bulwarks

Stubb and Flask sit on the ship’s walls securing the anchor lines—Flask doesn’t share Stubb’s casual attitude about Ahab—reminds Stubb that he said any ship Ahab sailed in would need extra insurance—that ship would be a ticking time bomb, didn’t Stubb say so?—Stubb: So what if I did?—his body has changed since then, why not his mind?—the Pequod won’t blow up when it’s so soaked through, Stubb reasons—Flask has red hair, but he can’t “get afire” now because he’s too wet—Marine Insurance companies have to give extra guarantees because of how dangerous the work is—but then, he thinks, most ships don’t have lightening rods attached to their masts for added protection—aren’t those ships less likely to be struck by lightening?—Stubb doesn’t suppose Ahab or any one of them to be in any more danger than your average whaleman—does Flask think that every man should be walking around with a lightening rod sticking up out of his hat?—tells Flask to be sensible—Flask points out that Stubb is rarely sensible—Stubb agrees, but says it’s hard to be sensible when you’re so wet—they resume work lashing down the anchor lines—Stubb reflects that they’re being secured as if they’ll never be used again—sailing with anchors dropped like tying your hands behind your back—wonders aloud if the world itself is anchored and if so where it’s lashed—must be a really long line—dismisses the lightening event as the next best thing to reaching land—calls for his soaked coattails to be wrung out—long-tailed coats and wide brimmed hats are the best clothes for seafaring—his hat’s blown overboard—“‘This is a nasty night, lad.’”

Midnight Aloft—Thunder and Lightening

Tashtego is up in the rigging, securing the main topsail yard—he hums—mutters at the thunder to stop all its clamor—“We don’t want thunder; we want rum.”—Tash wants rum—bring him one—he hums.

The Musket

Helmsman of the Pequod knocked down repeatedly by the ship’s jaw-bone tiller trying to steer through the typhoon—common, Ishmael reveals, for a ship’s compass needles to go all wonky in a storm—Pequod’s compass needles going round and round—typhoon starts abating “some hours after midnight”—Starbuck and Stubb cut sails loose so they stretch out alongside the ship, like the wings of an albatross riding out a storm—new sails installed and adjusted—Pequod sails under some measure of control again—direction: east-southeast—helmsman ordered to steer again after letting the ship just go its way during the storm—wind shifts in the ship’s favor—sails adjusted according—crew sings out with joy: “Ho! The fair wind! oh-he-yo, cheerly, men!’”—Starbuck goes (“however reluctantly and gloomily”) to inform Ahab of the change in circumstances—pauses before knocking on the captain’s door—cabin’s seclusion makes for eerie silence—light from swaying lanterns casts weird shadows on the door—Starbuck, an “honest, upright man,” seized with an “evil thought”—looking at the muskets in their rack, he remembers Ahab’s threat—sees the very musket Ahab pointed at him—checks and, yep, it’s loaded—considers pouring out the powder so the musket can’t fire—thinks better of it—the “fair wind” he’s duty-bound to report to Ahab is pushing them straight toward Moby Dick—toward “death and doom”—Ahab threatened to kill me, and he’s threatening the whole crew, Starbuck thinks—reflects on all Ahab’s bizarre behavior: breaking the quadrant, not taking precautions during the typhoon, etc.—thinks Ahab will be a murderer if the ship comes to harm—his soul is sure it will come to harm, too, “deadly harm”—hears Ahab within muttering in his sleep—Starbuck can’t withstand him—the captain demands only blind obedience—crew’s allegiance is sworn—“all of us are Ahabs”—wonders if there is a lawful way to defy the captain—take him prisoner?—Ahab won’t be defied—if he were tied up like an animal, Starbuck couldn’t stand the sight—they’re far from hospitable land—wonders if it’s a crime when lightening strikes a man down—would it be a crime, then, if…—Starbuck aims the musket at the cabin door—estimates Ahab’s position within, sleeping on his hammock—killing the captain would let him see his family again—certain not killing Ahab now will result in the crew’s and his own death—“‘Great God, where art thou? Shall I? shall I?’”—mutters through the door, as if to inform Ahab of the shifting wind—from within Ahab calls out in his sleep that he has Moby Dick’s heart at last—the leveled musket shakes in Starbuck’s hands—he returns the musket to its rack and leaves—commands Stubb to go rouse the captain—“‘He’s too sound asleep.’”

The Needle

Sea still swelling from the typhoon—wind billows the sails—just before sunrise, rays of golden light follow in the Pequod’s wake—Ahab stands apart from the crew—reckons his ship the sun god’s chariot—approaches the helmsman to ask their direction—“‘East-sou-east, sir,’” he replies (frightened)—Ahab checks again the position of the sun behind the ship and calls him a liar—how’s the sunrise behind us if we’re heading east?—no one else had noticed the discrepancy—the ship’s compass says they’re heading East when they’re heading West—wth?!—Ahab, getting it finally, laughs—turns out the lightening storm fried the ship’s compass—Ishmael reveals that it’s not unheard of for the polarity of compass needles to be reversed if a ship is struck by lightening—says the damage can’t be repaired—Ahab measures their direction by eye, determines the compass needles are “exactly inverted,” and orders the ship turned around—Starbuck’s quiet and brooding—mates dumbly just following orders now—the whole crew fearing Ahab more than “Fate”—“pagan harpooneers” unaffected, tho—pacing the deck, Ahab spots some pieces of the quadrant he smashed before the storm—jeering at the wrecked quadrant and compass, Ahab calls for 1) a lance without a pole, 2) a top-maul (hammer), and 3) the smallest of the sail-maker’s needles—“‘Ahab is lord of the level loadstone yet.’”—Ahab means to restore the crew’s faith in him—bad omen, they’ll think, to sail by inverted compass needles—announces to the crew that he can repair the damage to the ship’s navigational instruments—they’re impressed, awaiting “magic”—Ahab knocks off the steel lance head with the hammer, instructs a mate to hold the remaining metal pole upright without touching the deck—repeatedly strikes the top of this iron pole with the hammer—then stands the needle atop the pole—gently hammers on the needle now—makes some strange motions, maybe not entirely necessary to his purpose—calls for some linen thread—goes to the binnacle and removes the broken compass needles—then suspends the hammered-on needle by the thread over the compass face—it swings round for a bit then settles itself—Ahab steps back from the binnacle dramatically—reveals the homemade compass needle now points them right—one-by-one the crew checks the compass—Ahab triumphant, “in all his fatal pride.”

The Log and Line

Pequod has seldom used the log and line on this voyage—ship’s often don’t anymore, Ishmael says, relying on other navigational instruments—the thing in question is a rope housed on a wooden spool with a wedge-shaped piece of wood attached to the end—it’s just been hanging from the Pequod’s rigging, getting weathered—some hours after “the magnet scene,” Ahab spots the unused tool and orders it put to work—as the wind slackens, two seaman arrive to operate the log and line—Manxman holds the spool of rope in the air as Ahab approaches—Ahab starts unspooling the rope, and the Manxman observes the rope looks too worn—Ahab shrugs it off says it’s fine—Manxman says it’s not worth arguing with a superior, and Ahab’s impressed with the sailor’s learning—asks where he’s from—“‘the little rocky Isle of Man, sir.’”—Ahab has some fun with that idea before heaving the log into the sea—ship’s now dragging the line behind it—log buoys up and down with the swell throwing the Manxman off balance—rope snaps, and the log is lost—Ahab curses all the breaking equipment but determined to fix this, too—orders the carpenter to make a new log and the Manxman to repair the line—Pip comes to help—Pip talks crazy a bit, says Pip is still missing—maybe he’s at the end of the broken line—here he comes, up the side of the ship!—“‘a hatchet! cut it off—we haul in no cowards here.’”—Manxman tells him to chill, orders him away—Ahab shouts Manxman down—starts interviewing Pip about his crazy talk—Pip replies with more crazy talk—“‘ding, dong, ding! Pip! Pip! Pip!’”—Ahab curses the “‘frozen heavens’” for Pip’s fate—says that Pip will stay in the captain’s cabin from now on—says the two are bound by their “‘heartstrings’”—Pip welcomes Ahab’s hand—calls for Perth to weld their hands together—I’m never letting go, Pip says—me either, says Ahab—the two retreat below deck together—“‘There go two daft ones now,’” says the Manxman—broken end of the line finally appears—mend it?—he thinks they need a new one—goes to check with Stubb.

The Life-Buoy

Pequod heading for the equator—all calm (before the storm?)—in dark hours before dawn, the watch hears some eerie cries coming from some rocky islands they’re sailing past—crew listens entranced—Christian sailors say it’s mermaids—“pagan harpooneers” unimpressed—oldest sailor says it’s the cry of recently drowned men—Ahab doesn’t learn of the sound until after sunrise—Flask reports it to him—Ahab laughs it off—turns out seals were nesting on the rocky islands—maybe the cries were from seal mothers missing their cubs or from cubs missing their mothers—sailors still suspicious—creeped out by seals anyway cause they look so human—…—at sunrise a sailor makes his sleepy way from his hammock to the masthead—soon the crew hears a cry and a rushing sound—man fell off the masthead into the sea—a life-buoy (made from a long, slender, wooden cask), which usually hangs from the back of the ship, is thrown overboard after him—so messed up it just sinks—not a good sign that the first sailor to mount the masthead looking for Moby Dick in Moby Dick’s favorite waters dies—crew doesn’t see the event as prefiguring some future evil but as explaining the creepy wailing they heard in the night—Manxman doesn’t agree—Starbuck orders the lost life-buoy replaced, but no suitable replacement can be found—Queequeg suggests they use his coffin—Starbuck’s a bit startled, Stubb says it’s “queer,” Flask is down—Starbuck reluctantly orders the carpenter to make a life-buoy out of Queequeg’s coffin—mates go to the bow of the ship, leaving the carpenter to grumble about his new assignment—Ahab’s new leg has served him well enough, why can’t Queequeg make use of his coffin properly?—the job of turning the thing into a coffin makes him feel like a common tinker—not the kind of straightforward building project he prefers—gets to work anyway—says superstitious carpenters would refuse the job—not right, he thinks, for a carpenter to ask why? and wherefore? about a job—just do it—ties thirty lifelines around the thing so it’ll be sure to hold.

The Deck

Carpenter finishing up work turning Queequg’s coffin into a new life-buoy—it’s strung up at his workbench, when Ahab walks by, followed by Pip—Ahab orders Pip back to the cabin—spots the life-buoy—calls the carpenter “‘unprincipled as the gods’” for one day making legs, the next day making coffins to put the legs in, then the next day making life-buoys out of the coffins—says the carpenter, “‘I do as I do.’”—Ahab wonders if he sings while at work, like a gravedigger—he doesn’t have to cause his tools do all the singing—Ahab inquires after the difference between the sound of knocking on a empty coffin and an occupied one—carpenter struggles to reply, and Ahab orders him away—Ahab starts talking to himself—sees some cosmic significance in the idea of a “‘[a] life-buoy of a coffin’”—retreats below deck to talk the matter over with Pip—apparently, he “‘suck[s] most wondrous philosophies’” from Pip.

The Pequod meets the Rachel

The Pequod meets the Rachel—her sails say bad news—“Hast seen the White Whale?”—Rachel’s Captain, Gardiner, has lost his son in an encounter with Moby Dick and asks Ahab’s help in finding him: a request which the mates are keen for Ahab to oblige—but Moby Dick isn’t dead, and Ahab refuses—#monomania—the Rachel goes on her sorrowful way, searching alone for the missing boat.

The Cabin: Ahab and Pip

Pip tries to follow Ahab on deck—reaches for his hand—“Lad, lad, I tell thee thou must not follow Ahab now”—but Pip is desperate to be with Ahab—he begs his captain to stay, which produces a curious reaction in Ahab, like Pip (his madness maybe) has the ability to “cure” Ahab’s malady—“If though speakest thus to me much more, Ahab’s purpose keels up in him. I tell thee no; it cannot be.”—Ahab shakes hands with Pip and leaves him alone—Pip raves and rambles—he is lost—“Have ye seen one Pip?”—Though left alone, Pip remains loyal to Captain Ahab—“But here I’ll stay, though this stern strikes rocks; and they bulge through; and oysters come to join me.”

The Hat

The Pequod nears the whaling grounds where Captain Ahab previously did battled Moby Dick, who has been spotted recently by the Rachel—like the “unsetting polar star […] Ahab’s purpose now fixedly gleamed down upon the constant midnight of the gloomy crew”—the crew moves around the ship “dumbly,” like machines—Fedallah is trembling and staring—Ahab won’t retire to his cabin: “his whole life was now become one watch on deck”—the crew can’t tell when Ahab is asleep or not because his hat is always pulled  low over his eyes—he and Fedallah silently stare at one another across the deck of the ship…creepy—“Man the mastheads!”—“What d’ye see?— sharp! sharp!”—Ahab decides that he must be the one to spy the White Whale—the doubloon will be his—he makes himself a nest for the mainmast head—Starbuck hoists him skyward, working Ahab’s lifeline, which is strange, Ishmael notes, since the two have not being seeing eye-to-eye—while perched aloft, Ahab has his hat stolen by a seahawk, who flies out to sea—when the bird has achieved some distance from the Pequod, the crew sees the hat (“a minute black spot’) drop into the water—another bad omen.

The Pequod meets the Delight

A gam with the “miserably misnamed” Delight—more of an argument—Moby Dick has stove a whaleboat, which is visible upon the ship’s shears, and killed five crewmen—Ahab inquires whether Moby Dick has been killed, and the Delight’s replies that the harpoon is not forged that will kill them—Ahab shows off his special iron—four of the dead whalemen of the Delight have already been buried at sea: “You sail upon their tomb.”—the Pequod tries to sail away before the…—Splash!—the fifth dead sailor of the Delight is dropped into the sea—“some of the flying bubbles might have sprinkled [thee Pequod’s] hull with their ghostly baptism”—as it turns away from the Delight, the Pequod’s coffin/life-buoy catches the attention of the Delight—the crew bitingly laughs and ridicules the Pequod—“[i]n vain”—It’s not worth it to leave a funeral with a coffin on your back.

The Symphony

Clear day—sea and air form a union as between man and woman, sun marrying them off—Ahab on deck—watches his reflection in the sea, sheds a tear—Starbuck approaches, startles Ahab—trying to play it off like “‘it is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky’”— reminisces about his forty years whaling—feels guilt about the time spent away from his wife—“‘wife? wife?—rather a widow with her husband alive!’”—a “‘weary load’” and a lost leg to boot!—feels “‘deadly faint, bowed, and humped,” as if he’s Adam staggering under the accumulated weight of time since the Fall—calls on God to smite him for mercy—tells Starbuck to look him in the eye—asks him not to lower with him when they engage Moby Dick—Starbuck’s moved—“‘Oh, my Captain! my Captain!’”—mate asks Ahab (again) if they can just turn around and go home—“‘to see old Nantucket again!’”—Ahab thinks about what his wife and son are doing at this precise moment back home—Starbuck recalls his wife waiting with their son for the sight of their sails—Ahab wonders aloud what his driving him on his quest for Moby Dick—himself? God? who?—goes on about a tuna chasing a flying fish, about the smell of the air in the Andes mountains—goes to talk to Starbuck, but the mate’s walked off.

The Chase—First Day

Night: Ahab on deck, says he smells a whale—soon the crew smells it—ship’s course altered to follow the smell—by morning, long wake ahead—mastheads manned—Daggoo wakes sleeping crew—ship at full sail—Ahab, hoisted to the masthead, soon spots Moby Dick—crew gathers to see the whale a mile out—Ahab claims doubloon, calls the boats to ready—Starbuck reminded to stay behind—boats dropped—slowly rowing alongside Moby Dick’s white hump—Ahab spies the wrinkled brow—lance sticks out of whale’s back—“[n]ot the white bull Jupiter” could rival the white whale—Moby Dick arches out of the sea, showing his full body, and sounds—the boats float, waiting—herons flock toward Ahab’s boat—jaw agape, Moby Dick emerges directly beneath Ahab’s boat—Ahab steers boat aside, switches places with Fedallah at front of the boat, grabs Perth’s harpoon—boat turns to face Moby Dick head-on—Moby Dick turns on his back, takes the bow of the boat in his jaw—Ahab almost swallowed, Fedallah’s men tumble to back of the boat—boat breaking apart, Moby Dick beneath it, so they can’t harpoon him—Ahab goes to free the boat, when Moby Dick bites it in half—crew clings to wreckage—Ahab falls on his face into the sea—Moby Dick swims away, starts moving in an odd fashion—“pitchpoling” allows him to take in his surroundings better—encircles the wrecked crew, seeming maddened by the sight of the broken boat—Ahab can barely swim, Fedallah watches him—other boats stay away, Pequod approaches—Ahab tells them to steer for Moby Dick, to scare him off—whale swims off, and the other boats come to help the stranded men—pulled into Stubb’s boat, Ahab collapses—pulling himself together a bit, rising, he asks about his harpoon: Stubb has it—asks about any missing men: all accounted for—Ahab’s crew combines with Stubb’s to take off after Moby Dick but don’t catch him, paddle back to the ship instead—Pequod pursues Moby Dick, Ahab at intervals motionless and pacing the planks—broods over broken boat—Stubb laughs it off, Ahab not amused—Starbuck calls it an omen—Ahab sends them both away—night falls—ship sets course based on the last sighting of Moby Dick’s spout—Ahab reminds crew of his claim to the doubloon—it’ll stay on the mast until Moby Dick’s dead.

The Chase—Second Day

Daybreak: mastheads manned—no sign of Moby Dick yet—Ahab regrets not keeping ship at full sail through night—pursuing one whale through night and day not unheard of in the whale fishery—good, Nantucket whalemen can predict a whale’s direction—with favorable sea and wind, whales tracked as surely as a pulse or a train schedule—ship sails on, Stubb nervously giddy—whale spotted ahead—whole crew worked into a solitary frenzy: “They were one man, not thirty.”—rigging full of men searching for Moby Dick, but Ahab goes up, too—previous whale sighting false alarm—crew erupts as Moby Dick bursts into view less than a mile from ship—in full breach—his splash against the sky like a glacier—boats lowered—Moby Dick charges—boats release lances as he passes flailing jaw and tail—boats expertly steered clear of fatal damage—Moby Dick entangles Stubb and Flask’s boats by the whalelines, bashing them together—Moby Dick sounds and boats’ remains left spiraling in his wake—crew grope around in the sea for floatation devices—Moby Dick rams Ahab’s boat upright into the air—boat comes down on its side, spilling men out—Moby Dick surfaces again, smiting the wreckage with flukes—leisurely swims off, trailing whalelines—Pequod sails near, drops a boat for crew and salvage—some sprained limbs, but men are okay—Ahab clings to remains of his boat—Starbuck helps captain to the deck, his ivory leg broken off—carpenter blames the blacksmith—Ahab undeterred, drives on after Moby Dick—realizes Fedallah is missing, orders crew to search for him—Stubb thinks he was dragged underwater, tangled in a line—Ahab enraged—Starbuck begs Ahab to stop the mad quest—“‘Impiety and blasphemy to hunt him more!’”—no turning back for Ahab—predicted: Moby Dick will go down on the third day of the chase—to himself Ahab admits that the fear he wants to drive from crew clings to him—remembers Fedallah’s prophecy that he would die before Ahab—a riddle unsolved—dusk: Moby dick still in sight—ship sets course to follow him through night—crew works through night repairing lances, harpoons, etc.—carpenter makes Ahab a new leg out of the keel of his broken boat.

The Chase—Third Day

Day break: crew watching out—Moby Dick not in sight, Pequod follows in his wake—Ahab blesses the beautiful day—feeling more than thinking, like grass growing in hard climates—braver than the wind—blesses the Trade Winds, “‘blow my keeled soul along!’”—fearing he’s overshot Moby Dick, Ahab turns around—Pequod sails against the wind toward Moby Dick—obeying Ahab, Starbuck disobeys God—Ahab lifted into the rigging again—hour passes before Moby Dick spotted—Pequod and Moby Dick head-to-head—Ahab takes last look around at the sea before descending to ready boats—reminisces about gazing on the same sea in youth—goodbye to the Pequod’s mossy masts—will he wind up in the bottom of the sea like Fedallah or see Moby Dick caught and butchered?—Ahab lowered to the deck, pauses to talk to Starbuck—Ahab wonders about his fate, Starbuck pleads, “‘go not!’”—Ahab’s boat paddles out—sharks surface, bite at his boatsmen’s oars—Starbuck marvels at Ahab’s reckless bravery, recalls his wife and son—wondering if death awaits them all, orders crew to keep close watch on boats and whale—seahawk snatches red flag from Pequod’s mainmast—Moby Dick sounds and boats pause—Moby Dick breaches out of the sea and crashes down, leaving a thirty-foot splash—Ahab orders boats after the whale—Moby Dick charges, scattering boats with his tail—“half torn” body of Fedallah seen tangled up in lines, fastened to the whale’s back—harpooneers stunned—Ahab recalls the prophecy: Fedallah goes before, but where’s the “second hearse”?—Ahab orders boats back to the ship for repair, continues the chase himself—Moby Dick flees out to sea—Starbuck calls to Ahab to return: “‘Moby Dick seeks thee not. It is thou, thou, that madly seekest him!’”—Tash, Daggoo, and Queequg manning mastheads now—Ahab observes Pequod’s crew at work as his boat passes—Tash ordered to replace flag on mainmast—from fatigue or malice, Moby Dick slows—Ahab drives on, his boat oars being splintered by sharks, positions himself in the bow—pulling along whale’s flank, Ahab darts harpoon—Moby Dick rolls, Ahab nearly sent from boat—one tossed oarsmen left floating behind, two others get back in—line snaps—Moby Dick charges Pequod, snapping his jaws—still in pursuit, Ahab’s boat starts to sink—Tash still hammering new flag into mainmast when Starbuck and Stubb spy the whale bearing down ship—Starbuck begs God to stand by him, Stubb begs God to stand under him—whole crew pauses to watch oncoming whale—Moby Dick rams ship’s starboard bow, staggering crew and sending water rushing into the hull—Ahab: oh, Pequod = “second hearse”—Moby Dick dives, surfacing not far from Ahab’s boat—Ahab bemoans loss of the ship, feels cutoff and alone—Ahab darts another harpoon at Moby Dick—harpoon hits, line runs fast but wrong—Ahab goes to untangle line, but his neck is caught up—line snatches him into sea—line runs out, sinking with him—boat’s crew turns to look for Pequod, sees only its masts sticking out of the sea, harpooneers still upon mastheads—ship’s remains soon sink in a swirling “vortex”—upon mainmast, Tash the last to go, still hammering red flag into place—seahawk swooping down to peck at the flag gets nailed to mainmast as it sinks—sea birds flock over spot where the ship sank—sea rolls on, as it did five thousand years ago.


Epigraph: “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee. – Job”—how can there be any more to say?—one person survived—Ishmael reveals: he replaced the bowsman on Ahab’s boat for its last hunt—he was left floating behind the boat when several of them were pitched out doing battle with Moby Dick—spun around the “vortex” that vanished the Pequod, drawn toward the “button-like black bubble” at its center—bubble popped as the “coffin life-buoy” shot lengthwise from sea—“[b]uoyed up by that coffin,” Ishmael floated for a day and night—sharks encircled but did not bite, seahawks glided by but did not swoop—second day: sail appeared—the Rachel, still searching for her “missing children,” picks Ishmael up—#orphan.


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