Monday, December 29, 2008

Moby Dick: Chapters 29-34

Chapter 29: Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb

Ahab never sleeps. Usually he was quiet.

But once, the mood was on him too deep for common regardings; and as with heavy, lumber-like pace he was measuring the ship from taffrail to mainmast
Stubb makes a joke of asking him to muffle the ivory leg.
"Am I a cannon-ball, Stubb," said Ahab, "that thou wouldst wad me that fashion? But go thy ways; I had forgot. Below to thy nightly grave; where such as ye sleep between shrouds, to use ye to the filling one at last.—Down, dog, and kennel!"

Starting at the unforeseen concluding exclamation of the so suddenly scornful old man, Stubb was speechless a moment; then said excitedly, "I am not used to be spoken to that way, sir; I do but less than half like it, sir."

"Avast!" gritted Ahab between his set teeth, and violently moving away, as if to avoid some passionate temptation.

Stubb catches whiff of a mystery:
He's full of riddles; I wonder what he goes into the after hold for, every night, as Dough-Boy tells me he suspects; what's that for, I should like to know? Who's made appointments with him in the hold? Ain't that queer, now?
Chapter 30: The Pipe

Ahab's pipe no longer soothes or calms him, so he tosses it.

Chapter 31: Queen Mab

Stubb has a whopper of a dream. Ahab's peg leg becomes a pyramid. A hump-backed merman.
Listen, wise Stubb. In old England the greatest lords think it great glory to be slapped by a queen, and made garter-knights of; but, be your boast, Stubb, that ye were kicked by old Ahab, and made a wise man of. Remember what I say; be kicked by him; account his kicks honors; and on no account kick back; for you can't help yourself, wise Stubb. Don't you see that pyramid?"

"Mast-head, there! Look sharp, all of ye! There are whales hereabouts! If ye see a white one, split your lungs for him!"

Chapter 32: Cetology

A book within a book about all the whale types.

Chapter 33: The Specksynder
Now, the grand distinction drawn between officer and man at sea, is this—the first lives aft, the last forward.
And while the harpooneers are more like the men at sea, through the history of the Specksynder they are officers of a sort.
Oh, Ahab! what shall be grand in thee, it must needs be plucked at from the skies, and dived for in the deep, and featured in the unbodied air!
Is Ahab a great man, or is this what Ishmael wishes to see?

Chapter 34: The Cabin-Table
Over his ivory-inlaid table, Ahab presided like a mute, maned sea-lion on the white coral beach, surrounded by his warlike but still deferential cubs. In his own proper turn, each officer waited to be served. They were as little children before Ahab; and yet, in Ahab, there seemed not to lurk the smallest social arrogance.
Hmmm. Much like the table at the Spouter-Inn. Poor Flask. Last one in, first one out, always hungry. After the officers, the squires eat. They scare the Dough-Boy.
after seeing the harpooneers furnished with all things they demanded, he would escape from their clutches into his little pantry adjoining, and fearfully peep out at them through the blinds of its door, till all was over.
Oh, Ahab is just the sort of man to be Ishmael's hero, attracted as Ishmael is to the deathly and gloomy. his inclement, howling old age, Ahab's soul, shut up in the caved trunk of his body, there fed upon the sullen paws of its gloom!

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