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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Musing in a Time of Angst

From: Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin

"Ahab seized a loaded musket from the rack (forming part of most South-Sea-men’s cabin furniture), and pointing it towards Starbuck, exclaimed: “There is one God that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod.—On deck!”

For an instant in the flashing eyes of the mate, and his fiery cheeks, you would have almost thought that he had really received the blaze of the levelled tube. But, mastering his emotion, he half calmly rose, and as he quitted the cabin, paused for an instant and said: “Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man.”



I've always been fascinated with this passage. There is oil leaking in the storage chamber of the ship. Starbuck comes to Ahab and says, we need to stop and fix the leak. Ahab says no. He does not want to stop. He wants to keep hunting the white whale. Starbuck questions the decision and out comes Ahab's gun. It happens that quickly.

I thought of Russia when reading this. Of how many men walked away from Putin fearing for their own safety first. How many of those men warned Putin that he was his own worst enemy? Would it have made a difference?

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