Moby Dick

Moby Dick chapters 106-112, help?

Consider the meaning of the haunting phrase Starbuck speaks to Ahab. Why does he tell Ahab to "beware of thyself?" What does Ahab have to be afraid of?

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Ahab is on a crazy vengence trip against the whale. Ahab is bent on the destruction of he whale even at the risk of the destruction of his crew, ship and himself.

Here, the reader sees the clash between two strong yet different personalities who clash because their purposes on the ship are diametrically opposed. Starbuck is concerned primarily with the sperm oil and its care which will ensure him financial security while Ahab is only concerned with pursuing the whale. Thus, the clash is in a way inevitable. Still, the way Starbuck is able to handle the difficult situation speaks volumes for his strong character as well as his profound understanding of people. Starbuck is right when he warns Ahab to beware of himself, as Ahab’s enemy is Ahab himself and not the white whale. It is his obsession for revenge that finally brings about his destruction as well as the ship’s.

Ahab also realizes that if Starbuck decides to oppose him, Starbuck will succeed because of his strong and solid character. This is because Ahab has been using his position as captain to make the crew support him in his blind obsession to seek revenge. Therefore, Ahab is relieved when he observes that even after the ugly incident in the cabin, Starbuck continues to obey his commands.


Chapter 109 (another confrontation between Ahab and Starbuck) Twice a week, a whaler like the Pequod, if it is carrying any significant amount of oil, floods the hold (at the bottom of the ship) with salt water in order to keep the casks "damply tight." If oil is discovered in the water, the mariners know that some casks are leaking. When Starbuck learns of leaks in the ship's cargo, he properly reports the problem to his captain and requests permission to stop the ship and direct all hands toward investigation and repairs.

The problem reveals a stark contrast between the first mate's and the captain's conceptions of the purpose of the journey. Starbuck wants to fill the hold with oil, protect it, and return home. As he says, "What we come twenty thousand miles to get is worth saving, sir." Ahab responds, "So it is, so it is; if we get it." Starbuck means the oil; Ahab means the White Whale. Starbuck reminds the captain of the owners' interests. Ahab could not care less about the owners. He points a loaded musket toward the first mate and declares, "There is one G-d that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod." Ahab orders Starbuck back on deck. The first mate leaves, saying, "Let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man." Ahab thinks about that and agrees. For whatever reason, he soon goes on deck and commands that the ship must stop for repairs. Ishmael speculates that the captain's action may be a prudent response to Starbuck's dissatisfaction.

Ahab seems relieved when Starbuck obeys his order to return to deck. Obsessed though he is, the captain realizes that he could be accused of usurpation, unlawfully using the ship for his own purposes rather than following the owners' directions. Starbuck, on the other hand, has only two choices. He can go along with the captain's orders or attempt to take over the ship ... a drastic and extremely dangerous option even if he could convince the crew to support him. Justification for mutiny would be hard to prove, and the penalties, if he were found guilty, would be severe. Ahab's decision to repair the casks wisely resolves the situation for the time being.


Thank you Aslan, and Jill for your answers. I would like to say that they are booth the Best answers.

Thanks Ross.

You are welcome Ross.................. I hope you have a fantastic summer!