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Chapters 110 - 113
The ship cruises into the southern waters of the Pacific. As against the stormy waters of the Atlantic, the sailor can feel the calmness of the gentle waves in the Pacific. But Ahab is anything but calm. For somewhere in the depths of this ocean, they would soon meet Moby Dick.
In the next chapter, Ishmael introduces the reader to the blacksmith of the ship, Perth. This quite, grim man is always bent over his work with his hammer, shaping metals, as required by the crew. Ishmael says that Perth was a well-to-do English man, who had a loving wife and children. But due to a stranger who enters Perth’s home, alcohol, his wife died and later his children. The grieving Perth decides to go to the sea.
Captain Ahab meets the blacksmith. Opening his leather pouch, he removes hard nails used to fasten shoes on racing horses. According to Perth, it is made of the hardest metal. Ahab asks him to weld the nails to a harpoon point, which will then penetrate the back of any whale. The blacksmith complies with his demand. However, while welding the nails, Ahab takes over and welds it into a fine point. Once it is done, Perth decides to cool the metal by putting it into water. But Ahab stops him. He calls the three harpooners - Tashtego, Queequeg and Daggoo. These men give Ahab some blood each. The hot red point of the metal is dipped into the blood, before Ahab carries it to his cabin.
Meanwhile, the Pequod is slowly entering the Japanese whaling ground. For several days, the crew chases a large number of whales, but fail to capture any.
Here, the reader meets a man whose grieving heart and aloof nature brings him close to Ahab, who is able to identify with Perth’s pain and suffering as well as his isolation.
The ceremony where the welded steel point is dipped in blood given by the three ‘savage’ harpooners is significant. The ritual (suggesting that the tribal practice of baptism by blood rather than water) is much more binding and deep. Besides, since Ahab’s aim is crazy and evil, perhaps it is for this reason that he baptizes the harpoon in the name of the devil.
In the Gilder, the author makes some observations about life. He states that life, like the Pacific, is calm water mixed with storms.