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Free Study Guide-Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapters 45 - 46

Summary

Although Ahabís mission on the Pequod is to destroy Moby Dick, he reasons that during the period before the crew members actually spot Moby, they should not sit idle and should scout down other whales for oil. Otherwise, Starbuck may rebel against him. Even the crew members that had so lustily cheered his proposal might back down without a promise of financial remuneration.

Consequently, Ahab instructs all the sailors to keep a sharp look out for any whale or porpoise at sea. This will mollify the chief mate and keep the rest of the crew busy. Very soon, a school of sperm whale is spotted. There is considerable excitement and flurry of activities on board. The boats are swung on the sides of the ship, ready to be lowered for the chase. Everyone keeps a sharp look out for the whales. At this moment, the crewmembers are distracted by a sudden exclamation. Everyone turns to see Ahab who is surround by five dark men from the East who seems to have made an appearance out of the blue.


Notes

In trying to understand the motives behind Captain Ahabís instructions, Ishmaelís nature is revealed. Ishmael is perhaps the only member on board who is trying to understand each actor in the drama, that is being enacted on the Pequod.

The reader learns more about Ahab in these chapters, his shrewdness and understanding of his men. He is fearful of Starbuck and sees him as a possible adversary. Also, by keeping the men distracted with hunting other whales, Ahab can make it appear that the white whale is not the sole purpose of the Pequodís journey. He is an able captain who knows exactly how to be in full control of every situation.

At the end of the Chapter 46, the reader along with the crew members discover the presence of some dark foreigners on board, who appear on the decks with Ahab for the first time.

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