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Chapters 128 - 131
As the ship sails in search of the white whale, and Ahab prepares to leave his cabin to go on the decks. Pip tries to follow him, but Ahab tells him to stay in the cabin. For the feels that there is something in him (Pip) that is "too curing to my malady. Like cures like; and for this hunt, my malady becomes my most desired health."
Day after day, Ahab paces the decks, waiting for one of the sailors to ‘sing out’ for the white whale. Gloominess prevails over the entire ship, as the search for Moby Dick continues. After four days, Ahab loses his patience. He decides to climb the crow’s nest and keep a look out for the white whale. He does so because he feels that the crewmembers have not been doing their job properly. As he stands on the high perch, looking at the sea ahead, a hawk flies out of nowhere, swoops over him and plucks Ahab’s hat from his head.
The Pequod meets another ship on the way - the ‘Delight.’ The ship is carrying a broken boat alongside it. When Ahab inquires about the white whale, the captain points at his splintered boat. He tells Ahab that five of his sailors have died, while trying to chase Moby Dick. Ahab asks if they have killed the whale. To this the captain says, "The harpoon is not yet forged that ever will do that." In reply, Ahab holds his harpoon and tells the captain that Moby Dick’s death is in his hands.
In the following chapter, Ahab stands against the ship’s rail, looking at the calm water below. Seeing him in a reflective mood, Starbuck joins him. Ahab tells Starbuck about his life at sea, his marriage, his wife who he has seen only twice since then and the hardships he has had to face while whaling. At this point Starbuck pleads with him to return home, to Nantucket, and to his family. However, Ahab responds to his passionate plea by wondering aloud, as to what it is that has been driving him, on to such a course. When he turns, he sees that Starbuck has gone.
Pip’s companionship and his sorrow seem to melt Ahab in the chapter, Cabin. For it arouses in him positive feelings that for a moment nearly make him swerve from his path - his mission to kill Moby Dick. It is for this reason that he asks Pip to stay in the cabin while he goes on to the decks.
Again, the author shows Ahab’s human aspect, as he stands talking to Starbuck about his life. The author seems to say that one cannot write off a man because he is evil, for every man has some human feelings. Also, at the end, Ahab seems to slowly recognize the obsessive feelings and negative emotions that are driving him on to the present course. Yet this awareness does not allow him to stop his course. He must follow it through to the bitter end.