Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ahab's One Track Mind

Chapter 100 – Leg and Arm.   The Pequod, of Nantucket, Meets the Samuel Enderby, of London
Ahab meets with the English ship, The Samuel Enderby, and finds the captain has lost a limb because of Moby-Dick some time ago.  They saw the White Whale (with the Ahab’s irons), but dared not chase him.  Ahab is frantic just to know the last place he was spotted, and rejecting the crew’s hospitality, he eagerly returns to the Pequod.

Chapter 101 – The Decanter
An account of the history of Samuel Enderby, an Englishman, and English whalers, as well as why the English whalemen are so generous. 

Chapter 102 – A Bower in the Arsacides
To better justify his knowledge of the Sperm Whale, Ishmael tells of how he once visited the lord of Tranque who showed him the skeleton of the whale, which was used as their temple.  Ishmael had the dimensions tattooed to his arm. 

Photo from
Chapter 103 – Measurements of the Whale’s Skeleton
Obviously, Ishmael gives the measurements of the whale’s skeleton, but here is his main point:
How vain and foolish, then, thought I, for timid untraveled man to try to comprehend aright this wondrous whale, by merely pouring over his dead attenuated skeleton, stretched in this peaceful wood.  No.  Only in the heart of quickest perils; only when within the eddyings of his angry flukes; only on the profound unbounded sea, can the fully invested whale be truly and livingly found out.
Chapter 104 – The Fossil Whale
To describe “Leviathan,” one needs a “condor’s quill” and “Vesuvius’ crater for an inkstand;” that is how huge the whale is.   I wonder of the accuracy and truth regarding the “archaeological, fossiliferous and antediluvian point of view” given by Ishmael, but for now I must keep moving…

Chapter 105 – Does the Whale’s Magnitude Diminish? – Will He Perish?
Ishmael claims the whale’s size is not decreasing, as some would argue, and that whales will always remain on the earth because of their habitat and their longevity of life.

Chapter 106 – Ahab’s Leg; Chapter 107 - The Carpenter; Chapter 108 - Ahab and the Carptenter
Ahab needs a new artificial leg, and he calls the ship’s carpenter to make him a new one.  The Carpenter is highly versatile, talented, and in demand aboard the Pequod.  Ahab arrives for his fitting of his new leg, and he perplexes the carpenter with his discourses on hell and fire.

Chapter 109 – Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin
Starbuck informs Ahab of an oil leak in the hold and recommends they stop to repair it, but Ahab rejects his recommendation because he does not care about the oil or the Pequod’s captains.  Nonetheless, Ahab does order the crew to fix the leak, and Ishmael suggests it may have been prudential intervention, as Ahab does not prefer hostility from the crew.

Chapter 110 – Queequeg in His Coffin
Queequeg develops a fever as a result of searching for the leak in the hold of the ship, and is so stricken, he is certain of death.  He requests that a coffin be made, that he may lie in it, and be left at sea when he dies, just like the whalemen of Nantucket.  However, he recovers, as he remembers he has unfinished business and must attend to it; therefore, he “changes his mind about dying.”

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