Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Moby Dick Ch. 51: The Spirit-Spout

The following is from a work-in-progress called "Moby Dick: a Book Report" in which I read each chapter of Herman Melville's classic novel Moby Dick, and write about what I read.

One evening, as the Pequod was sailing, Fedallah (Ahab's mysterious harpooner), spotted a silvery jet, like the spouting of  whale.  But this was no ordinary jet: "Lit up by the moon, it looked celestial; seemed some plumed and glittering god uprising from the sea."  Upon approaching it, however, nothing was seen.  It was like a mirage of whale-spout, a "spirit-spout."  This mysterious vision was seen quite often, around midnight.  The sailors began to believe that it was spouted by Moby-Dick, though the whale had not been seen. 

When the Pequod rounded the Cape of Good Hope, it entered stormy seas: "And heaved and heaved, still unrestingly heaved the black sea, as if its vast tides were a conscience; and the great mundane soul were in anguish and remorse for the long sin and suffering it had bred."  Often, in these stormy seas, black sea-ravens flew behind the ship and perched ominously on its bow.  These sea-ravens, like the spirit-spout, seemed to have a spiritual significance: "We found ourselves launched into this tormented sea, where guilty beings transformed into these fowls and these fish, seemed condemned to swim on everlastingly without any haven in store, or beat that black air without any horizon."

Meanwhile, Captain Ahab kept his gaze and focus fixed forward, passionately seeking the white whale: "With one hand firmly grasping a shroud, Ahab for hours and hours would stand gazing dead to windward, while an occasional squall of sleet or snow would all but congeal his eyelashes together."

No comments:

Post a Comment