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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 38: Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book


Chapter 36: Day 38: The Quarter-Deck

“But what’s this long face about, Mr. Starbuck; wilt thou not chase the white whale? art not game for Moby Dick?”

“I am game for his crooked jaw, and for the jaws of Death too, Captain Ahab, if it fairly comes in the way of the business we follow; but I came here to hunt whales, not my commander’s vengeance. How many barrels will thy vengeance yield thee even if thou gettest it, Captain Ahab? it will not fetch thee much in our Nantucket market.”

“Nantucket market! Hoot! But come closer, Starbuck; thou requirest a little lower layer. If money’s to be the measurer, man, and the accountants have computed their great counting-house the globe, by girdling it with guineas, one to every three parts of an inch; then, let me tell thee, that my vengeance will fetch a great premium here!

“He smites his chest,” whispered Stubb, “what’s that for? methinks it rings most vast, but hollow.”

“Vengeance on a dumb brute!” cried Starbuck, “that simply smote thee from blindest instinct! Madness! To be enraged with a dumb thing, Captain Ahab, seems blasphemous.”



 

 

Musings:


And here is the chapter where Starbuck tries.


Ahab has gathered the men on the deck and roused them to a fevered pitch about killing Moby-Dick. He has nailed a gold coin to the masthead explaining that whoever sees the white whale first, will get the coin. The crew are all in. They hoot and holler and Ahab orders a drink for all. Then he sees Starbuck’s face.


Ahab asks Starbuck what is wrong with the plan to catch the white whale and Starbuck answers. His answer is quite compelling and correct – he will catch any whale as long as it’s for money. That is what they are there for. Making money. Vengeance is not the reason. Starbuck tries logic again, asking Ahab how much vengeance is worth in dollars.


Ahab grabs his own chest. Asks how much feelings of the heart cost.

Then Starbuck tries one more time. He tells Ahab that Moby-Dick is just a dumb animal. He bit Ahab out of instinct and not from intent.


And here is a central question for us all – do things happen to us by chance or by purpose? This is the exploration of the book!

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