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  • From The Chase - Third Day

The Daily Dick: Musings on the Greatest Novel Ever


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"Moby Dick was now again steadily swimming forward; and had almost passed the ship,-which thus far had been sailing in the contrary direction to him, though for the present her headway had been stopped. He seemed swimming with his utmost velocity, and now only intent upon pursuing his own straight path in the sea.

"Oh! Ahab," cried Starbuck, "not too late is it, even now, the third day, to desist. See! Moby Dick seeks thee not. It is thou, thou, that madly seekest him!"

Musing: This last line, to me, is one of the most important lines in the book. Ahab is in a boat with a few men. The other whale boats are destroyed. Ahab has seen the dead body of the Parsee - the prophecies are almost fulfilled. Ahab knows his time is coming. And yet, with Ahab in a perfect position for a being to go in for the kill, the whale seems to be swimming out to sea. Starbuck sees the truth - the whale was never out to get Ahab. It was a random act. It was Ahab who sought revenge on nothing more than an animal of the sea. Every time I read this line I want to go back and say - no. The whale was the aggressor; Ahab had a right to revenge. And then I have my doubts. What if there was no intention? What if it is all random? What if . . .


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