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  • From The Musket

The Daily Dick: Musings on the Greatest Novel Ever

Starbuck: "'I can’t withstand thee, old man. Not reasoning; not remonstrance; not entreaty wilt thou hearken to; all this thou scornest. Flat obedience to thy own flat commands, this is all thou breathest. Aye, and say’st the men have vow’d thy vow; say’st all of us are Ahabs. Great God forbid!'"


Musing: Starbuck is watching the sleeping Ahab while holding the musket. He knows he will never convince Ahab to cut the voyage short. He knows the men are all doomed. The irony here is that Starbuck is showing flat obedience to the commandment of his God not to commit murder while complaining of obeying his ship's Captain in the same way. Oh the brilliance of Melville. The book often seems to poke at our propensity to blindly obey.

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