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  • From The Chase - Third Day

The Daily Dick: Musings From the Greatest Novel Ever

"A whole hour now passed; gold-beaten out to ages. Time itself now held long breaths with keen suspense. But at last, some three points off the weather bow, Ahab descried the spout again, and instantly from the three mast-heads three shrieks went up as if the tongues of fire had voiced it.

"Forehead to forehead I meet thee, this third time, Moby Dick! "


Musing: Make no mistake - this book has religious overtones. Melville loved to use the number three. The book itself begins with three words - 'Call me Ishmael.' Here at the end, we are in the third day. There are three points, three mast-heads, three shrieks, and this is the third time Ahab will meet Moby-Dick. Three is a number that signifies the past, the present, and the future. It is sacred to many religions. How many times did the cock crow for Peter? How many days until Jesus rose from the dead? How many men on the crosses? I read once that there are over 250 overt mentions of the number three in this book. Three's are a big deal and Melville really hits it hard here at the end. Is Ahab a sacrificial figure? A hero? When the book was complete, people said Melville was a blasphemer. Maybe, but maybe not. Can any of us say for sure?

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