The Chase for Moby Dick—the Third Day


The third and final day of chasing Moby Dick was a “lovely day in “a new-made world.” It was a ‘summer house to the angels.” The Pacific Ocean again was tranquil. The calm before the storm. This time a metaphysical storm. The crew of the Pequod followed the whale “in his infallible wake.” Like so many true believers, they followed their god to their doom. “A fairer day could not dawn upon that world.”


Once again, the 3 boats each filled with a small crew of harpooneers, set out into the “wondrous blue” in search of Moby Dick. The sharks “know” that they should only follow Ahab’s boat. They ignore the others. Even Ahab sees this and asks, “who can tell…whether these sharks swim to feast on the whale or on Ahab?”


Sure, the crew heard the whale before they saw him. It was a “subterraneous hum” after which all the men held their breaths when “a vast form shot lengthwise, but obliquely from the sea. Shrouded in a thin drooping veil of mist, it hovered for a moment in the rainbowed air and then fell swamping back into the deep.”  Melville hints at a resurrection. As the whale went down water, white water 30ft. high was pushed up, “leaving the circling surface creamed like new milk round the marble trunk of the whale.” As Ishmael described it, “Moby Dick seemed combinedly possessed by all the angels that fell from heaven.”

Starbuck again tries to convince Ahab to relent. He says to him, as the whale goes down again, “See! Moby Dick seeks thee not. It is thou, thou, that madly sleekest him!”

None of this persuaded Ahab to give up the quest.  For the true believer, nothing can convince him or her to give up a religious quest. That is one of the dangers of such a quest.

 The crew met up again with their mighty foe on this tranquil day. Not to be tranquil for long. After that we learn what mad hatred brings us.

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