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Free Study Guide-Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapter 99

Summary

In this chapter, the Pequod meets an English Whaler called ‘Samuel Enderby’. Ahab cries out to the ship to inquire about the white whale. To this, the captain of the ship shows him an arm made of white sperm whale bone. Ahab’s boat is lowered. However, when he nears the ship, he is unable to climb over the sides of the ship, because of his artificial limb. When the captain realizes Ahab’s plight, he lowers a hook for him.

On the ship, Ahab and the Captain cross their bone limbs ‘like two swords - fish blades’ instead of shaking hands and the Captain tells Ahab that Moby Dick was seen on the ‘Line’ - the equator. They sighted the white whale, while they were harpooning another whale. Moby Dick attacked their boat and a harpoon stuck in his body (which was Ahab’s in their last encounter) slashed the captain’s arm so badly that his doctor on the ship had to amputate it.


When Ahab inquires if they met or saw the white whale again, the captain says twice. But he did not chase him because he "Didn’t want to try to; ain’t one limb enough?" and thought that it was best to leave Moby Dick alone.

Notes

Here, the author reveals the contrast in the reactions of two captains whose limbs have been severed by Moby Dick. On the one hand, Ahab is crying inwardly for revenge. This feeling takes the form of frequent violent outbursts. On the other, there is the captain of the English vessel, who decides to leave Moby Dick alone. He along with the Doctor in the ship feel that Moby Dick does not have any malice, and what people "take for the white whale’s malice is only his awkwardness."

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