1.27.2017

Moby Dick: The FINAL Chapters



WARNING- THIS POST CONTAINS SERIOUS SPOILERS... AS IN THE ENTIRE ENDING.

Meagan

We. are. DONE. Can you even believe it. Somehow I look at my book and wonder how, 5 chapters at a time, I made it through the entire thing. When I'm like 70 (god forbid) someone will ask me my greatest accomplishments (I don't know why someone would ask me this but ok...) and I will say reading this. I don't care if I have kids, grandkids, or if I found the cure for cancer... somehow those things have to be easier. While it was hard as all hell to finish and I stand by this statement... it was not the WORST thing I've ever done. Meg is a drama queen... or a drama peasant. Thank you to Becca who read this whole thing with us and barely complained but who also acknowledged that reading it sucked and wrote a lovely guest piece about other books she had to read just to make it out alive that you can read here.

This last push has firmed up Stubb as my favourite character. Who was your fave character guys??? Stubb calls flask a "timber-head" which is a new insult I love. I also love him suggesting the captain of the Rachel only wants help finding Moby Dick because the whale ate his watch or something... when in actuality its his son. I would make an equally dumb comment and so I love Stubb.

I also liked the section about Starbuck deciding whether he should kill Ahab or not. Definitely yes and nobody would have even been mad but I also found Ahab to be more likable in this section and almost sad... I hadn't viewed him like this before. The speech where he talks about how he widowed his wife in marrying her and how in 40 years had not spent more than 3 on land is devastating. I like how Melville describes Starbuck as "wrestling with an angel" as opposed to a devil because he is the one making the devil's argument rather than the devil trying to convince him... interesting perspective. I also liked the line about how the crew's "fear of Ahab was worse than their fear of fate" which explains why Starbuck doesn't kill him. I get that.. I'd be afraid to mess it up and have Ahab wake up and know what I was doing. I'd probably rather die of Moby Dick than take that chance.

I also want to say that I would have ended my life a lot of times on this trip but most notably when all the compasses stopped working. There is nothing worse to me than being lost and not knowing where my next meal would come from... if you need convincing watch Back Country... a movie both Meg and I are obsessed with and cannot stop promoting.

I do like learning about the whaling rules and how even in what is the most barbaric environment they live by them... like the majority first rule which forced the Rachel to save one boat over another that had a man's son in it. I've enjoyed these types of rules all throughout the book.

I also LOVED the introduction to chapter 130 painting a picture of the morale on the ship... "In this foreshadowing interval too, all humor, forced or natural, vanished. Stubb no more strove to raise a smile; Starbuck no more strove to check one. Alike, joy and sorrow, hope and fear, seemed ground to finest dust, and powdered, for the time, in the clamped mortar of Ahab's iron soul. Like machines, they dumbly moved about the deck, ever conscious that the old man's despot eye was on them." (521)  

The end ultimately was exciting although I'm still pissed it ended with the attack and we don't see the aftermath of Ishmael trying to survive... I'd love a few chapters of him on a rock being hunted by a shark like The Shallows. A few quotes I liked were how Ahab was "too much of a cripple to swim" and "white brine caking into is wrinkles"... what a description. I did miss Ishmael's commentary through the last few chapters as well. I missed hearing him panic in his own head. SO THE BIG QUESTION... IS THIS ONE OF THE GREATEST BOOKS EVER READ AND WHY DO YOU THINK THAT? Argue in the comments. Also... does anyone wish they had skipped reading this and just looked at this Infographic??? I am happy I read it but... this is really all you need to know.



Meghan

Hoooooooly.. I don't even really know what to say as I just read the FINAL chapter of Moby Dick this morning!!

I gotta say, I absolutely despised reading this book but the last paragraph gave me small shivers: "Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago." I'm sorry if it pisses you off that I shared the last line and you're reading this having never read Moby Dick ... I would be pissed if someone spoiled the last line for me too .. but I DESERVE THIS. I just went through hell and back reading 624 pages of utter garbage.

That's the thing ... Sometimes when you are on an extremely exhausting hike and you spent the last four hours wishing you were dead, on the drive home you idealize it and think you enjoyed yourself / it was worth it. I cannot stress enough that this is not how I feel after reading Moby Dick. My life was STOLEN from me while participating in this book club. And we all owe a lot to Becca for actively taking park in this ... so, congrats Becca! and fuck you Stefan! :)

I was just over at our ex pal Stefan's yesterday talking about Moby Dick and how we cannot believe this is supposed to be like the greatest American novel of all time. HOW CAN THIS BE.

Sorry, I know I have already written quite a bit without even talking about the rest of the chapters. It's honestly hard to focus on actual plot when you are finally free.

Obviously Melville knew what he was doing. The last three chapters (the 3 chase sections) are powerful and exciting. But maybe only because you've been captive to such total bull shit for 600+ pages beforehand.

I kind of liked this passage, "Retribution, swift vengeance, eternal malice were in his whole aspect, and spite of all that mortal man could do, the solid white buttress of his his forehead smote the ship's starboard bow, till men and timbers reeled." It's an ugly death that I can picture pretty clearly, and I also like that revenge is still heavily at the heart of this book.

I also love the image of Ismael clinging to the coffin and being the only survivor. What a terrifying scene. I would also somehow either die before even setting foot on the boat or I would survive the entire thing (to my horror).

Writing this is weird ... I don't know what else to say or how to end it. I just cannot believe we are finally done with this book. Weirdly enough I really want to read Nathaniel Philbrick's Why Read Moby Dick now .. but I don't want to be sentimental .. this was a HORRIBLE experience.

Anyways, I'll end mine with saying Meg and I booked our trip to Nantucket yesterday and we are unbelievably excited for the vacation of our lives. That post will be up in May! :) :)

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