Sunday, March 20, 2016

Moby Dick Ch. 73: Stubb and Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk Over Him

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.

In this chapter, as the lengthy title suggests, the mates Stubb and Flask pursue and kill a Right Whale, which is a little strange for a boat hunting Sperm Whales.  While hauling the whale in, they speculate on the origin of Ahab’s mysterious harpooneer Fedallah.  They believe he is the devil incarnate, come to take Ahab’s soul.  Stubb says: “Why, do you see, the old man (Ahab) is hard bent after that White Whale, and the devil there (Fedallah) is trying to come round him, and get him twap away his silver watch, or his soul, or some thing of that sort, and then he’ll surrender Moby Dick.”  Here, Ahab is indirectly compared to the fictional figure of Faust, who sold his soul to the devil.  Also, perhaps, Stubb and Flask are engaging in xenophobia, because Fedallah is foreign.

Faust sells his soul to the devil.

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