Jiffynotes index page

\\ home \ Moby Dick:
Chapters 111 - 115

Chapter CXI: The Pacific

The Pequod finally passes the "Bashee Isles" and enter the Pacific ocean, inspiring Ishmael's rapturous description of this serene sea and its endless "sweet mystery." Ahab, on the other hand, is hardly pacified by the exotic Pacific. Instead, "the old man's purpose intensified itself," and he begins to cry for Moby Dick's blood, even in his sleep.

Chapter CXII: The Blacksmith

After finishing his part of Ahab's leg, Perth the blacksmith continues to toil at his portable forge, now located on deck. Ishmael narrates the "shameful story of [Perth's] wretched fate," the story of how he came to acquire a noticeable limp. It seems that Perth led a prosperous life up until the age of sixty or so, when a burglar robbed everything in his house. Who was this burglar? "The Bottle Conjuror" - alcoholism. Unable to stop drinking and unable to work, the blacksmith eventually allowed his family to starve; the house was sold, his wife and children died of starvation, and the blacksmith himself became a homeless vagrant. After losing part of both his feet to frostbite, he eventually decided as a last resort to head to sea. Now, tending the fires of the forge, the broken-hearted blacksmith leads a new life - although the Pequod's dark journey hurries him toward another death.

Chapter CXIII: The Forge

As Perth works at the anvil, hammering out the dents in an old spearhead, Ahab approaches. He touches his scarred forehead and asks Perth, "Can'st thou smoothe this seam?" He then presents a bag of the hardest metal there is, "the gathered nail stubbs of the steel shoes of racing horses," and bids the blacksmith fashion the biggest, baddest harpoon known to man. Perth sets to work, making a harpoon rod out of twelve ordinary rods, Ahab putting his own hand to the work as well. Finally, he makes the barbs of the nailheads and of Ahab's razors as well (Ahab vows not to shave until he kills the White Whale). Ahab then summons his three harpooneers - Queequeg, Tashtego and Daggoo - and asks if they are willing to cool the sharp steel not with water, as usual, but with their own blood. They agree, puncture their wrists, fill a basin, and submerge the hot blade. In the novel's most shocking instance of Ahab's sacrilegious imagination, this tempering is presented as a Satanic baptism: " 'Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!' [I do not baptize you in the name of the Father, but in the name of the Devil!] deliriously howled Ahab, as the malignant iron scorchingly devoured the baptismal blood."

Chapter CXIV: The Gilder

The hunt for normal Sperm Whales continues as the Pequod cruises the gorgeous waters around Japan, but without much luck. Ishmael compares the beauty and calm of the sea in this part of the world with the utter evil of Ahab. The "blessed calms," although they fill all other members of the crew with delight, will not last long: the captain lusts for blood.

Chapter CXV: The Pequod Meets the Bachelor

After the Pequod's numerous encounters with ships from European lands, it now meets another Nantucket ship. The Bachelor, decorated "in glad holiday apparel," is filled with merry sailors - because it is also filled with barrels of oil in all available holds (yes, Melville does want us to understand that the Bachelor, unlike the Virgin, is full of sperm). The crew of the Pequod learn the story of the Bachelor's remarkable success in whale hunting. To the jolly captain's invitation that Ahab come on board and have a drink, we hear the maniac's inevitable reply: "Hast seen the White Whale?" The captain of the Bachelor not only says no but adds that he "[doesn't] believe in him at all." Ahab concludes that the man is a "fool," and turns the Pequod again toward her course. Could it be that belief in the dread White Whale is incompatible with happiness like that possessed by the Bachelor?

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1 - 5
Chapters 6 - 10
Chapters 11 - 15
Chapters 16 - 20
Chapters 21 - 25
Chapters 26 - 30
Chapters 31 - 35
Chapters 36 - 40
Chapters 41 - 45
Chapters 46 - 50
Chapters 51 - 55
Chapters 56 - 60
Chapters 61 - 65
Chapters 66 - 70
Chapters 71 - 75
Chapters 76 - 80
Chapters 81 - 85
Chapters 86 - 90
Chapters 91 - 95
Chapters 96 - 100
Chapters 101 - 105
Chapters 106 - 110
Chapters 111 - 115
Chapters 116 - 120
Chapters 121 - 125
Chapters 126 - 130
Chapters 131 - 135


Copyright © 1999 - Jiffynotes.com. All Rights Reserved.
To cite information from this page, please cite the date when you
looked at our site and the author as Jiffynotes.com.
Privacy Statement