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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 80: Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book

CHAPTER 73 Stubb and Flask kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk over Him


 “As before, the Pequod steeply leaned over towards the sperm whale’s head, now, by the counterpoise of both heads, she regained her even keel; though sorely strained, you may well believe. So, when on one side you hoist in Locke’s head, you go over that way; but now, on the other side, hoist in Kant’s and you come back again; but in very poor plight. Thus, some minds for ever keep trimming boat. Oh, ye foolish! throw all these thunder-heads overboard, and then you will float light and right.”




Such an odd chapter. And not in the way I like an odd chapter.


Stubb and Flask are talking over the head of the whale still hanging to the side of the Pequod. We hear Stubb and Flask talking smack about Fedallah and how he is like the devil and how Ahab is probably selling his soul to Fedallah in order to catch Moby-Dick.


The argument between Stubb and Flask is along the lines of what kind of devil Fedallah is and some dude talk about who would beat the crap out of the devil himself. It just seems silly.


Then we get the quote above and, I’ll admit it, it seems forced. If you think too much one way, think in another way to balance yourself. Or, better yet, throw all philosophy out the window and “float light and right.” Good advice, but this chapter could have been cut to the end. In fact, the whale’s head could have been cut from the boat at the start of this chapter!


I suppose we get some speculation about Fedallah and Ahab and the desperation Ahab has about catching Moby Dick, but all in all, not my fave spot in the book.

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