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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 41: Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book

Chapter 37: Day 41: Sunset

“The prophecy was that I should be dismembered; and—Aye! I lost this leg. I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer. Now, then, be the prophet and the fulfiller one. That’s more than ye, ye great gods, ever were. I laugh and hoot at ye, ye cricket-players, ye pugilists, ye deaf Burkes and blinded Bendigoes! I will not say as schoolboys do to bullies—Take some one of your own size; don’t pommel me! No, ye’ve knocked me down, and I am up again; but ye have run and hidden.”


King Ahab of biblical fame was not prophesized to lose his leg to a white whale, but he was to bleed. Whether or not Ahab is thinking of this in this passage is unclear, but he is thinking he is a marked man. Rather than be like Job, and ask for forgiveness from God, Ahab says he will give his own prophecy and that is that he will get the one who took his leg back. So not only is he not sorry, but he is also acting as God. Pretty sinful, I would think.

And Ahab goes on. He is not like a schoolyard bully who says ‘pick on someone your own size,’ he says it’s already done, whale. You got me ,but I am back and now you have run and hidden, but I’ll find you. It is never clear whether Ahab is speaking to the whale or to God, but it it chilling language regardless.

Ahab is telling us, the reader, the truth about what's in his head. He knows there was a prophecy and he does not care. He’ll be in charge now. He’ll taunt God and the whale too. He’s laughing in the face of God. This part of the chapter, of the book, always gives me a chill. Always. Here, is truth.

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