Chapter 31: ‘Mast-head, there! Look sharp, all of ye! There are whales hereabouts! If ye see a white one, split your lungs for him!’
Chapter 32: Next: how shall we define the whale, by his obvious externals, so as conspicuously to label him for all time to come? To be short, then, a whale is a spouting fish with a horizontal tail.There you have him. However contracted, that definition is the result of expanded meditation.
Chaphter 33: Nevertheless, as upon the good conduct of the harpooneers the success of a whaling voyage largely depends, and since in the American Fishery he is not only an important officer in the boat, but under certain circumstances (night watches on a whaling gourd) the command of the ship’s deck is also his…
Chapter 34: Over the ivory-inlaid table, Ahab presided like a mute, maned sea-lion on the white coral-beach, surrounded by his warlike but still deferential cubs.
Chapter 35: The three mast-heads are kept manned from sunrise to sunset; the seamen taking their regular turns (as at the helm), and relieving each other every two hours. In the serene weather of the tropics it is exceedingly pleasant, the mast-head; nay, to a dreamy meditative man it is delightful.
Chapter 36: “Whosoever of ye raises me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke – look ye, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, he shall have this gold ounce, my boys!”
Chapter 37: The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run…Naught’s an obstacle, naught’s an angle to the iron way!
Chapter 38: Will I, nill I, the ineffable thing has tied me to him; tows me with a cable I have no knife to cut. Horrible old man! Who’s over him, he cries; aye, he would be a democrat to all above; look how he lords it over all below!
Chapter 39: Because a laugh’s the wisest, easiest answer to all that’s queer…
Chapter 40: Oh, thou big white God aloft there somewhere in yon darkness, have mercy on this small black boy down here; preserve him from all men that have no bowels to feel fear!
Look at Chapter 38: “…tows me with a cable I have no knife to cut.” That phrase has jumped out in my reading! What cables are towing me? Sugar, for one thing, which seems as innocuous as a whale in the sea, and yet I seem unable to sever it completely. And surely, there are things which try as I might, I cannot cut away (judgement, perfectionism, a critical spirit).