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Free Study Guide-Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Free Booknotes Summary
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Chapters 132 - 134

Summary

That same night, while Ahab is standing on the decks, he gets the smell of a whole. The course of the ship is changed immediately. The crewmembers are woken up. Ahab climbs the crow’s nest. As he looks ahead, he cries out: "There she blows! ... A hump- like snow hill! It is Moby Dick!"

The boats are lowered. As crewmembers move silently on their boats, the whale seems to be gliding on the water, very blissfully. However, when the boat nears him, he dives. After almost an hour of searching, a flock of white birds hover over Ahab’s boat. As Ahab looks down into water, he sees the huge month of the whale coming up towards him. The boat turns away immediately, but Moby Dick also alters his course. Suddenly, he bites the boat into two parts. Ahab and his men are thrown into the water. The angry whale continues to swim around the men. The ship comes to Ahab’s rescue by coming between the whale and the stranded sailors. Another boat picks them up. No men are lost. The boat tries to chase Moby Dick but the whale escapes.

The next morning, Ahab sights the white whale again. Three boats are lowered. All three boats are able to throw their harpoons into Moby Dick. The whale thrashes about in anger, which brings about the collision of two boats, smashing them to bits. At this moment, Moby Dick dives into the water and rises right under Ahab’s boat, making it capsize. They have to give up the chase. When the Pequod picks up all the men, Ahab wants to know if everyone is there. He is informed that everyone is back except the Parsee, Fedellah. Fedellah had prophesied that he would die before Ahab. Ahab wonders if his prophecy is coming true. However the prophecy also said that he (Ahab) would see the Parsee again before his death. How was that going to happen, he wonders.

On the third day, the sailors do not see Moby Dick for a long time. Ahab cannot take it anymore. He climbs up the main mast and soon spots the whale. Three boats are lowered, led by Ahab. When Ahab’s boat comes near Moby Dick, Ahab pierces his harpoon into the whale’s side. The whale dives into the water, and rises high up into the air. As the whale rises, Ahab sees the dead Parsee’s body entangled in the rope of the harpoon. His prophecy has thus come true. Further, the force of the whale rising damages the other boats. Ahab asks the crew members to return to the ship.


The angry whale now drives its massive head into the ship’s sides and crushes its bow, thereby making the second prophesy of Parsee come true about the hearse made of American wood. Ahab, in a mad rage, sinks another harpoon into Moby Dick. But the rope catches Ahab round the neck and pulls him and the rest of the ship and its crew into the deep sea.

Notes

The whale chase is exciting and keeps the reader in suspense as the novel reaches its final episode--the meeting of Ahab and the white whale. Already enough evidence has arisen to forewarn the reader that the ending will not be a happy one.

Once again, on the final day Starbuck urges Ahab to give up the chase. He tells him "See! Moby Dick seeks thee not. It is thou, thou that madly seekest him!" These lines clearly suggest that it is not Moby Dick that wants to hunt Ahab, but it is Ahab who sees evil in the white whale and wants to destroy it. Ahab is blind with rage as he seeks to destroy the whale yet he cannot destroy what is part of him unless he also destroys himself. That he does with grisly determination.

But in spite of his madness, and obsession that brings his end, the reader is struck by Ahab’s undaunted spirits that stand like rock against all odds in his pursuit of the whale.

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