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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 35: Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book


Chapter 34: Day 35: The Cabin-Tale


To have been Belshazzar, King of Babylon; and to have been Belshazzar, not haughtily but courteously, therein certainly must have been some touch of mundane grandeur. But he who in the rightly regal and intelligent spirit presides over his own private dinner-table of invited guests, that man’s unchallenged power and dominion of individual influence for the time; that man’s royalty of state transcends Belshazzar’s, for Belshazzar was not the greatest. Who has but once dined his friends, has tasted what it is to be Cæsar.” 

 


 

Musings:


I love this chapter with its behind-the-scenes look at the captain’s table and how the officers are seated each evening. Although Ishmael seems to be the narrator here, I am not sure how he would know all the details of the evening meal, unless someone, probably Flask, spilled the beans.


Ishmael tells us how Ahab is seated at the table first. After that, the officers come down to the cabin in order of importance (Starbuck, Stubb, then Flask) and wait while Ahab carves the meat for them. While sounding rather civil, the least of the officers, in this case, Flask, must eat fast since the men leave the cabin in order of least importance. So poor Flask, last at his seat, must be the first to finish his meal and leave his seat before, say Stubb, decides he is full.


Cool line alert - the one where we must know what it is like to be a king once we have dined with friends.


Mostly this is a look below the deck at a scene we might never see. The dinner with Ahab is always silent, we learn, though Ahab does not command that. Because Ahab does not speak, no one speaks.

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