The Daily Dick: Musings on the Greatest Novel Ever
"Hearing the tremendous rush of the sea-crashing boat, the whale wheeled round to present his blank forehead at bay; but in that evolution, catching sight of the nearing black hull of the ship; seemingly seeing in it the source of all his persecutions; bethinking it-it may be-a larger and nobler foe; of a sudden, he bore down upon its advancing prow, smiting his jaws amid fiery showers of foam.
Ahab staggered; his hand smote his forehead."
Musing: Ahab has hit Moby Dick with a lance. The whale turns back toward Ahab as if to ram his small boat, then seems to notice the Pequod. At that moment Ahab understands the Pequod will be lost and his men are in danger. He also recognizes this is his own fault - not the whale's. One other thing - see how the whale's determination to ram the Pequod is not depicted as random, but as if the whale felt a specific hatred toward the boat? Moby Dick sees in the Pequod "the source of all his persecutions." I can't blame Melville for going back and forth on whether there is intention in the world's action or not. It's complicated - this life.