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‘Wolfish Gurglings’
Under a Troubled Master-Eye 12: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Chapter 38
© 2019 James LaFond
CHAPTER 38. Dusk.
(By the Mainmast; Starbuck leaning against it.)
The torment of the first mate, the only man aboard ship that has not taken up the quest to slay the devil whale, who remains the moral factor of the modern, materialistic order which they serve apart, in savagery, is seared into the narrator’s conscience as he suffers the fate of the alienated beta male:
“His heaven-insulting purpose, God may wedge aside. I would up heart, were it not like lead. But my whole clock’s run down; my heart the all-controlling weight, I have no key to lift again.
“(A burst of revelry from the forecastle.)
“Oh, God! to sail with such a heathen crew that have small touch of human mothers in them! Whelped somewhere by the sharkish sea. The white whale is their demigorgon.”
“Oh, life! ’tis in an hour like this, with soul beat down and held to knowledge,—as wild, untutored things are forced to feed—Oh, life! ’tis now that I do feel
the latent horror in thee! but ’tis not me! that horror’s out of me! and with the soft feeling of the human in me, yet will I try to fight ye, ye grim, phantom futures! Stand by me, hold me, bind me, O ye blessed influences!”
Morally mesmerized by the managerial social contract, Starbuck is unable to embrace the savage hunt now underway and stands alone amongst hierarchal inferiors reawakened to their nature as they seek the furthest corner of the world.
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