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  • From The Chase - Third Day

The Daily Dick: Musings on the Greatest Novel Ever


"The whale, the whale! Up helm, up helm! Oh, all ye sweet powers of air, now hug me close! Let not Starbuck die, if die he must, in a woman's fainting fit. Up helm, I say-ye fools, the jaw! the jaw! Is this the end of all my bursting prayers? all my life-long fidelities? Oh, Ahab, Ahab, lo, thy work. Steady! helmsman, steady. Nay, nay! Up helm again! He turns to meet us! Oh, his unappeasable brow drives on towards one, whose duty tells him he cannot depart. My God, stand by me now!"

Musing: So much to unpack in here. The whale is coming toward the Pequod and Starbuck knows if this happens, the ship will take on water and sink. Interesting that Starbuck, the godly one, is first afraid he will die like a woman. Starbuck also wonders if this is the end of his "fidelities?" I hope I never ask that question. Then he reminds Ahab, though Ahab is not near him, how all of this is his fault. Then Starbuck says that Moby Dick is coming toward him - the one who can't leave the ship because he promised Ahab he would not. Finally, after Starbuck has said he wants to die like a man, blamed Ahab, and reminded himself his vow to Ahab, he turns to God. I would have thought God was first with Starbuck. I guess we never know who we'll turn to in the end.


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