Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Moby Dick: Chapters 107-115

Chapter 107: The Carpenter

...he was, to a certain off-handed, practical extent, alike experienced in numerous trades and callings collateral to his own...

For nothing was this man more remarkable, than for a certain impersonal stolidity as it were.... He was a stript
abstract; an unfractioned integral; uncompromised as a new-born babe; living without premeditated reference to this world or the next.
Sounds like he had a touch of autism?

Chapter 108: Ahab and the Carpenter
Hold, don't speak! And if I still feel the smart of my crushed leg, though it be now so long dissolved; then, why mayest not thou, carpenter, feel the fiery pains of hell for ever, and without a body? Hah!
Whaah?...Ahab again:
By heavens! I'll get a crucible, and into it, and dissolve myself down to one small, compendious vertebra. So.

CARPENTER (Resuming his work)

Well, well, well! Stubb knows him best of all, and Stubb always says he's queer; says nothing but that one sufficient little word queer; he's queer, says Stubb; he's queer--queer, queer.... What was that now about one leg standing in three places, and all three places standing in one hell--how was that? Oh! I don't wonder he looked so scornful at me!
Chapter 109: Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin

...mastering his emotion, he half calmly rose, and as he quitted the cabin, paused for an instant and said: "Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, Sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man."

"He waxes brave, but nevertheless obeys; most careful bravery that!" murmured Ahab, as Starbuck disappeared. "What's that he said--Ahab beware of Ahab--there's something there!"
Chapter 110: Queequeg in his Coffin
Now, at this time it was that my poor pagan companion, and fast bosom-friend, Queequeg, was seized with a fever, which brought him nigh to his endless end.

...he shuddered at the thought of being buried in his hammock, according to the usual sea-custom, tossed like something vile to the death-devouring sharks. No: he desired a canoe like those of Nantucket...
Looking death in the face, Queequeg decided not to die.

Chapter 111: The Pacific
...this mysterious, divine Pacific zones the world's whole bulk about; makes all coasts one bay to it; seems the tide-beating heart of earth.
Ahab is oblivious to the allure of the Pacific.

Chapter 112: The Blacksmith

Alcohol ruined his life.
He had been an artisan of famed excellence, and with plenty to do; owned a house and garden; embraced a youthful, daughter-like, loving wife, and three blithe, ruddy children; every Sunday went to a cheerful-looking church, planted in a grove.

...Upon the opening of that fatal cork, forth flew the fiend, and shrivelled up his home.
What did he have left but to court Death?
Hearkening to these voices, East and West, by early sun-rise, and by fall of eve, the blacksmith's soul responded, Aye, I come! And so Perth went a-whaling.
Chapter 113: The Forge

Ahab: "And I suppose thou can'st smoothe almost any seams and dents; never mind how hard the metal, blacksmith?"

Perth: "Aye, Sir, I think I can; all seams and dents but one."

Ahab: "I, too, want a harpoon made; one that a thousand yoke of fiends could not part, Perth...

Perth: "Horse-shoe stubbs, Sir? Why, Captain Ahab, thou hast here, then, the best and stubbornest stuff we blacksmiths ever work."

Ahab: "I know it, old man; these stubbs will weld together like glue from the melted bones of murderers. Quic k! forge me the harpoon...

Ahab gives his own razors for the barbs. Ahab: "No, no—no water for that; I want it of the true death-temper. Ahoy, there! Tashtego, Queequeg, Daggoo! What say ye, pagans! Will ye give me as much blood as will cover this barb?"
"Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!" deliriously howled Ahab, as the malignant iron scorchingly devoured the baptismal blood.

[I baptize you not in the name of the Father, but in the name of the devil]
Ah, there's the kicker. The notes say Melville told Hawthorne this was the motto for the novel.
This done, pole, iron, and rope—like the Three Fates—remained inseparable, and Ahab moodily stalked away with the weapon; the sound of his ivory leg, and the sound of the hickory pole, both hollowly ringing along every plank.
Chapter 114: The Gilder
...these are the times of dreamy quietude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it...
Ahab: There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, and at the last one pause...resting at last in manhood's pondering repose of If. But once gone through, we trace the round again; and are infants, boys, and men, and Ifs eternally. ...Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it.

Starbuck: Let faith oust fact; let fancy oust memory; I look deep down and do believe.

Stubb: Stubb takes oaths that he has always been jolly!

Ahab: the fallen. Starbuck: the faithful. Stubb: the faithless. Or so I suppose.

Chapter 115: The Pequod Meets the Bachelor
As this glad ship of good luck bore down upon the moody Pequod, the barbarian sound of enormous drums came from her forecastle....the mates and harpooneers were dancing with the olive-hued girls who had eloped with them from the Polynesian Isles....three Long Island negroes, with glittering fiddle-bows of whale ivory, were presiding over the hilarious jig.
And thus, while the one ship went cheerily before the breeze, the other stubbornly fought against it; and so the two vessels parted; the crew of the Pequod looking with grave, lingering glances towards the receding Bachelor...
It is as though one is filled with good spirit, and the other with dread. One with salvation, the other with damnation.

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