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  • From The Chase - Second Day

The Daily Dick: Musings From the Greatest Novel Ever

"Starbuck, of late I've felt strangely moved to thee; ever since that hour we both saw-thou know'st what, in one another's eyes. But in this matter of the whale, be the front of thy face to me as the palm of this hand-a lipless, unfeatured blank. Ahab is for ever Ahab, man. This whole act's immutably decreed. 'Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled. Fool! I am the Fates' lieutenant; I act under orders. Look thou, underling! that thou obeyest mine."


Musing: After Starbuck's plea, Ahab responds with a 'speak to the hand' kind of moment. Then we get the fate idea in full color - it's all been decided already, Ahab tells Starbuck. Ahab acts under orders of Fate. And, he tells Starbuck, you better act under mine. I have done a lot of research about Fate in this novel and the root seems to be in Melville's fear that there is not a loving God helping us and making choices. Nature is capricious. Nature does not care. Still - Melville has his Fate determining outcomes. So on one hand, Fate is fixed and predetermined - religious. On the other hand, we have free will and Starbuck could make one choice and alter Fate. Sigh. I guess all we can do is continue the hunt.

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