Saturday, November 23, 2013

Moby Dick: Grammar-Stage Inquiry

Here again I’m working on the inquiries from The Well-Educated Mind. As part of this first level inquiry, I have posted six summaries of the book:

Next we are required to summarize the story by creating our own title and subtitle (which is different from the book’s). But before that, we must conclude this one….

Is there some point in the book where the characters change? Does something happen that makes everyone behave differently?

Now, this is quite a tough question, because I really didn’t find much alteration from the main characters throughout the book. Ahab consistently stuck to the plan of killing Moby Dick. Starbuck kept contradicting him, though not too strong. Ishmael kept being an outsider. Stubb…well, he kept being indifferent as ever. But without solving this problem, I might be struggling through the next inquiries. So, after some moments of reflection, I decided that there might be slight changes in Captain Ahab (as the main and central character) and Starbuck.

The point of change is the night before their first day of Moby Dick chases; the only moment when Ahab shared his troubled soul to Starbuck. Before this Ahab was always self-possessed and full of determination, but that particular night he was more human. He thought about how vain and foolish it was for him, to leave his wife and children, to sail solitarily in the sea for forty years. He felt pity for his wife that he has widowed to chase his prey. At that moment Ahab came to a point of repentance; he was inspired by the divine air that was lurking at that precise moment (chapter 132 – The Symphony). God’s power appeared in the shape of “snow-white wings of small, unspeckled birds” which represented the ‘gentle thoughts’ (I’ll analyze this deeper in the next stage inquiry). He appeared to in the eyes of Starbuck, who up to that moment keep his conscience clear (I see my wife and my child in thine eye)

This change changed Starbuck’s view too towards Ahab. Before this, he saw him as a wicked power which will ruin their lives with his monomaniac revenge. But now I think Starbuck regarded Ahab with some pity. Oh, he is just a man, who cannot hide from God’s presence. Ahab’s heart is not completely frozen; he still has affection towards his family. So Starbuck’s approaches to Ahab changed too; he even called him noble.

Give the book your own title and subtitle

Ahab’s monomaniac revenge to a whale – How a whaling ship Captain who was possessed by revenge passion, killed his conscience and against God, given a chance to repent, but discarded it, and so his life is doomed.


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