Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 131

It’s the Pequod’s final gam, and it’s a bleak one. The “most miserably named” whaleship Delight has, like the Rachel, encountered Moby Dick, and the encounter has brought death. Ishmael gives us this striking image of the destroyed...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 130

Those of you who were inclined to doubt whether Ishmael’s depiction of Ahab and Pip is meant to evoke the relationship between King Lear and his fool will be pleased to find that “The Hat” opens with an actual allusion to Shakespeare’s great...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 129

“The Cabin” is another dramatic chapter, and it develops further the relationship between mad Ahab and the mad cabin-boy Pip. Ahab now spends all of his time on deck watching for Moby Dick, but tells Pip to stay in the cabin, “where they shall serve...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 128

Of all the gams that Ishmael describes in the novel, this meeting with the Rachel is the most fraught — with emotion for the characters and with significance for the narrative. Here the Pequod encounters a ship that, the day before, encountered Moby Dick and...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 127

“The Deck” continues the narrative train of thought established at the end of “The Log and Line,” which I suggested we read with Shakespeare’s King Lear in mind. “The Life-Buoy” ended with the carpenter front and center, given...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 126

The Pequod, “steering now south-eastward by Ahab’s levelled steel, and her progress solely determined by Ahab’s level log and line” is now seemingly all alone in “unfrequented waters” as she heads toward the Equator, and the mild...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 125

After Ahab destroys his quadrant, he declares that “‘the level ship’s compass, and the level dead-reckoning, by log and by line; these shall conduct me, and show me my place on the sea. Aye,’ lighting from the boat to the deck, ‘thus I...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 124

Unbeknownst to Ahab and his crew, the electrical storm through which the Pequod has just passed has reversed the polarity of the ship’s compass so that the Pequod is now sailing West — homeward — instead of East — toward Moby Dick. It’s...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 123

This chapter poses a familiar ethical dilemma: is it morally acceptable to kill one man in order to save many? The typhoon abates, new sails are reefed, and Starbuck goes down to Ahab’s cabin to inform the captain that they are back on course. On his way, he...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 122

The shortest chapter in the book. A two-sentence stage direction, followed by seven sentences. And three of those sentences are “Um, um, um” — barely sentences at all. Tashtego, following Ahab’s orders, is “passing new lashings”...