All of us are Ahabs | Moby-Dick reread, riff 34

I. In this riff, Chapters 120-122 of Moby-Dick.

II. Ch. 120, “The Deck Towards the End of the First Night Watch.”

A very short chapter with a mediumish-length title

After the title, we have a stage direction: Ahab standing by the helm. Starbuck approaching him.

The rest is a brief exchange between Captain and First Mate, in which Starbuck is overwhelmed (again) by Ahab’s tyrannical force.

III. Ch. 121, “Midnight.—The Forecastle Bulwarks.”

We go from Ahab and Starbuck to “Stubb and Flask mounted on them [the forecastle bulwarks], and passing additional lashings over the anchors there hanging.” 

After this stage direction, again—dialogue. I might summarize their brief conversation, which we audit unimpeded by authorial intrusions—but I’d rather point out the complete retreat of Ishmael. He is again a ghostly voyeur, here there and everywhere in the text, an open ear, unobtrusive, the ship’s silent spirit.

IV. Ch. 122, “Midnight Aloft.—Thunder and Lightning.”

Great little poem, this chapter. Look, here it is. Read it aloud, make it rhyme:

Give us a glass of rum. Um, um, um!

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