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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 30: Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book


Chapter 30: Day 30: The Pipe


“How now,” he soliloquized at last, withdrawing the tube, “this smoking no longer soothes. Oh, my pipe! hard must it go with me if thy charm be gone! Here have I been unconsciously toiling, not pleasuring—aye, and ignorantly smoking to windward all the while; to windward, and with such nervous whiffs, as if, like the dying whale, my final jets were the strongest and fullest of trouble. What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I’ll smoke no more—”

He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire hissed in the waves; the same instant the ship shot by the bubble the sinking pipe made. With slouched hat, Ahab lurchingly paced the planks.” 

 

 

Musings:


Ahab is on deck alone. Again, not sure what happened to Ishmael as the narrator or how he could possibly know the interiority of Ahab, but this passage – gulp – gorgeous.


It is the middle of the night. Ahab’s pipe blows smoke into his face. Ahab decides he is no longer ‘soothed’ by his pipe smoking. Something has changed. He sees the pipe and the smoke like the whale and their jets and he is done with it. Says the pipe is meant for serenity and mildness and Ahab is neither of those things.


Ahab tosses his pipe overboard and hears the fire hiss in the ocean. Here we get the slouched hat from Jonah and a shot of Ahab walking the planks.


Ahab has given up the thing that gave him comfort – his pipe. He recognizes, perhaps, that something inside of him has changed. He equates himself to a dying whale. He says he is not the same man who would be comforted by the things in life he used to take comfort in. Ahab knows himself. And we understand that something is about to blow wide open.

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