Chapters 126 and 127
1. Where is the ship now, and what is unusual about the situation?
IT’S BY THE EQUILATERAL FISHING GROUND (THIS IS WHERE MOBY DICK GOT AHAB THE FIRST TIME). THE WATERS ARE UNFREQUENTED ( THERE ARE NO SHIPS THERE). THERE ARE UNVARYING TRADE WINDS (THEY ARE ALWAYS THE SAME) – THEY ARE UNNATURALLY MILD.
2. What replaces the lost buoy, and how is this significant?
THE LOST BUOY IS REPLACED BY QUEEQUEG’S COFFIN. THIS IS SIGNIFICANT BECAUSE IT FORESHADOWS THE DEATH OF THE CREW.
3. Why is the carpenter upset about what he has to build?
THE CARPENTER IS UPSET BECAUSE THEY ASK HIM TO TURN THE COFFIN INTO A LIFE-BUOY. HE FEELS UNAPPRECIATED AND AS THOUGH HE WORKS HARD FOR NOTHING. HE FEELS LIKE IT IS UNPRINCIPLED TO RECYCLE THE WOOD.
4. Why do the cries of the seals frighten the men?
THE CRIES OF THE SEALS ARE SCARY BECAUSE THEY SOUND LIKE DROWNING MEN. (FORESHADOWING)
5. Describe the forms/styles used in these chapters.
IT’S WRITTEN IN A THEATRICAL DIALOGUE – AHAB EVEN HAS A LONG SOLILOQUY AT THE END!
Chapters 128 and 129
1. How did the Rachael lose her boat?
IT WAS ATTACKED BY MOBY DICK AND THE BOAT WAS LOST AT SEA. THE SHIP HAD HARPOONED MOBY DICK, AND HE WENT SWIMMING SO FAST AWAY THAT NO ONE EVER SAW THE SHIP AGAIN.
2. Why does Ahab ask whether Moby-Dick has been killed?
HE STARTED TO BECOME UNSURE OF WHETHER OR NOT THEY WILL FIND HIM IN THESE WATERS. HE IS WORRIED SOMEONE MIGHT KILL MOBY DICK BEFORE HE GETS TO.
3. Why is the Rachael’s captain investing an uncommon amount of time in his search for the lost boat?
THE CAPTAIN’S SON WAS ON THAT BOAT.
4. How does Pip make Ahab doubt himself and his mission?
AHAB LOVES PIP; HE IS WORRIED PIP MIGHT GET HURT. SEEING PIP’S MADNESS REMINDS HIM THAT HE IS MAD, AND THAT (FOR THE FIRST TIME) MAKES HIM QUESTION WHAT HE IS DOING.
5. What does Ahab’s final comment in chapter 129 mean?
AHAB IS WILLING TO DIE FOR HIS MISSION. HE WILL NOT MOVE, EVEN IF THE BOAT SINKS, UNTIL “THE OYSTERS COME TO JOIN [HIM]”
Chapters 130 and 131
1. Why does the mood onboard the Pequod shift (the crew is now decidedly gloomy and without humor) in chapter 130?
Ahab takes control and is clearly losing his mind (he also loses his hat, which is a scary omen). They are getting closer to Moby Dick – they are nearing the equator (where Moby Dick likes to hang out – this is also where Ahab had his leg bitten off); they are encountering many ships who have met Moby Dick (and those people have died/had other bad things happen because of Moby Dick).
2. What makes Ahab decide to begin standing his own shift at the mast head?
He wants to see Moby Dick (truth) first – it’s HIS quest (and he believes it is his fate). He also doesn’t trust the men to actually see the whale or even tell him if they do see the whale.
3. What happens to Ahab’s hat and how is this interpreted?
A bird takes the hat (black hawk). They view this as a bad omen.
4. What happened to the Delight when it met with Moby-Dick?
They were throwing the dead from their boat into the water when the Pequod pulls up next to them. The ship lost one of its boats and five sailors.
5. What is the other captain’s opinion of Moby-Dick?
He says, “the harpoon is not yet forged” that can kill him.
Chapters 132 and 133
1. In what ways are the things Ahab is saying to Starbuck in their conversation in chapter 132 very different from what we’ve come to expect from Ahab?
Ahab seems to be more kind-hearted than one might think. He seems to regret having left his wife behind for all those years, and he tells Starbuck not to lower a boat to hunt Moby Dick – he wants Starbuck to live and get to go home to his family.
2. Who is the first to spot Moby-Dick, earning the doubloon? Why is this important?
Ahab (even though Tashtego yells out only a moment later); thus, Ahab got what he wanted (to be the first to sight the whale – he thought that was fated), and he also got to keep the doubloon.
3. Why are Ahab and his crew unable to attack Moby-Dick as he chews on their boat?
He is very smart, and he gets his body perpendicular to the boat’s keel as he bites the boat; this means that his body is protected by the boat.
4. Why do the other boats not attack the whale after Ahab’s boat is destroyed?
The men from Ahab’s boat are in the water near Moby Dick and would be in grave danger if the other men were to attack Moby Dick now.
5. How do Ahab and his crew end up escaping being killed by the thrashing whale?
The Pequod sails up and right into the battle; this makes Moby Dick turn and leave.
Chapters 134, 135, and Epilogue
1. How are the whale and its actions described when he is spotted on the second day? Try to contrast his appearance to Ahab’s appearance.
The whale is seen breaching out of the water “toward heaven;” he spouts, and it is glittering, sparkling, and glaring “like a glacier.” He seems good and pure, while Ahab seems dark and evil. Notice the darkness of Ahab’s skin and face and the blackness of his clothing.
2. On the second day, three harpoons are successfully attached to the whale. Why do the crews have to cut the lines?
Moby Dick swims around in a crazy zig-zag until all the lines are so tangled that the men can do nothing but cut them.
3. What does Ahab say is the reason for continuing the pursuit of Moby-Dick?
He believes it is his fate.
4. How are Fedallah’s four prophecies fulfilled?
Fedallah dies before Ahab; then, the first hearse is the whale himself dragging Fedallah down, and the second hearse is the American-wood of the Pequod; next, Ahab is killed by the hemp rope around his neck; finally, Ahab is given neither hearse nor coffin – he died at sea and was drowned.
5. How is Ishmael able to survive the wreck of the Pequod?
He was thrown far from the fight when Moby Dick rammed into the boat he was in. Then, when it was all over, Ishmael saw Queequeg’s coffin and went to float on it. In the end, the Rachel rescued him (they were still looking for the captain’s lost son).