Monday, July 16, 2012

The Storm Before the STORM

Chapter 111 – The Pacific
Ishmael contemplates the calming of the sea:
“There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about his sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath…”
But as for Ahab: none of that matters to him.

Chapter 112 – The Blacksmith
Meet the Pequod’s blacksmith, Perth, who has a sad story to tell about how he lost everything he did have and turned to the sea that calls those who desire death without the guilt of suicide.

Chapter 113 – The Forge
Ahab bids Perth to make him a new harpoon with horseshoe nail-stubbs, solid enough to “stick in the whale like his own fin-bone.”  Ahab also tempers the barbs with the blood of the three harpooners and exclaims, “Ego non baptize te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!”  (Latin for: I am not baptized in the name of the Lord, but in the name of the devil.)  

Chapter 114 – The Glider
The sea is misleading: the calm and serene beauty causes one to forget the force lurking beneath the waves. 
Chapter 115 – The Pequod Meets the Bachelor
Homeward bound and full to the brim of oil, but “vain-gloriously” cruising about, the Nantucket whaler, the Bachelor, and the Pequod pass one another – “one all jubilations for things passed, the other all forebodings as to things to come.”  Ahab inquires of any sightings of the White Whale, but that’s a negative; the stranger captain does not even believe in him.

Chapter 116 – The Dying Whale
Four whales are slain - the last one by Ahab very late in the day.  He watches his dying whale turn to the sun, which Ahab considers fire-worship.

Chapter 117 – The Whale Watch
As Ahab waits to bring in his whale, Fedallah, the Parsee, reminds Ahab of the prophecy: Ahab cannot die until he sees two hearses on the sea – one not man-made and the other made of wood grown in America; Hemp will kill Ahab; and that he shall die before Ahab. 

Chapter 118 – The Quadrant
Onboard, Ahab is dissatisfied with relying on the quadrant, the device that measures latitude, to reveal Moby-Dick to him; he crushes it underfoot.  Instead, he vows to guide the Pequod by his own reckoning, and he orders the ship to turn around. 

Chapter 119 – The Candles
The Pequod heads into a typhoon, and lightning causes fire on the three masts, which look like three burning spermaceti candles.  Ahab thinks they light the way to the White Whale, and he does not allow the crew to hoist the lightning rods.  Then Ahab’s harpoon catches fire, but he blows it out with one puff.

Chapter 120 – The Deck Towards the End of the First Nigh Watch
Starbuck is certainly clashing with Ahab regarding mending the weather-stricken sails.

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