Moby Dick


Chapters 117 - Epilogue

Chapter 117 Summary

Fedallah tells Ahab a prophecy about the latter’s death: Ahab will see two hearses before his death, one made of American wood, the other not made by mortal hands at all. Ahab thinks this means that he will not die on this voyage, since it is unlikely that he would see hearses on the water. Fedallah says that Ahab can only be killed by hemp, and Ahab assumes this is a reference to the hangman’s gallows. He laughs, saying he is “immortal on land and on sea.”  

Chapter 118 Summary

As the Pequod nears the equator, the crew gazes often at the Spanish doubloon and waits eagerly for Ahab’s orders to change direction. Ahab uses a quadrant to establish their latitude and grows angry when it contradicts his own intuition. Smashing the quadrant beneath his foot and false leg, Ahab orders the ship to change course. Starbuck laments the captain’s impetuous behavior, but Stubb admires it.

Chapter 119 Summary

The day after changing course, the Pequod sails into a typhoon and loses one of the harpoon boats. Lightning sets the masts aflame, but Ahab will not allow the lightning rods to be placed. He sees the three flaming masts as a sign of good luck: white flames lighting the way to the White Whale. Starbuck, on the other hand, interprets the flames as an ill omen harbingering the doomed nature of their quest for Moby Dick. When Ahab’s harpoon catches fire, Starbuck warns the captain that it is a sign that God is against him. Ahab grasps the flaming harpoon and, waving it about, reminds the terrified crew that they are equally bound with him to find the White Whale.

Chapter 120 Summary

Starbuck wants to strike the main topsail because of the storm, but Ahab refuses. He tells the first mate to lash everything together, saying that only a coward would lower the sails.

Chapter 121 Summary

Flask and Stubb, lashing down the ship’s...

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