We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick

  

by Herman Melville

Moby-Dick Chapter 123: The Musket Summary

  • The helmsman of the Pequod has been thrown to the deck many times by the force of the typhoon. He’s also seen the needles in the compasses spinning.
  • In the early hours of the next morning, the typhoon dies down.
  • Starbuck and Stubb are able, in the calm, to rig new sails.
  • The Pequod gets back on course—during the typhoon, the helmsman just steered as best he could as they weathered the storm.
  • The breeze changes, and the Pequod is now sailing with, instead of against, the wind.
  • Starbuck goes down toward the cabin to tell Captain Ahab.
  • Entering the cabin, Starbuck sees the loaded musket that Captain Ahab threatened him with before. (Ahab is behind a door in his stateroom.)
  • Starbuck pauses in front of the musket and gives a Hamlet-like soliloquy, trying to decide whether or not he would be justified in imprisoning or murdering Ahab in order to save the crew from his revenge quest.
  • Starbuck picks up the musket and holds it against the door; he knows the exact spot where Ahab’s hammock hangs, and he could shoot him in the head through the wall.
  • Starbuck tells Ahab the wind has shifted.
  • Ahab, waking, is excited to think that he’ll find Moby Dick at last.
  • (If that seems like an abrupt transition, it’s not on us; that’s how Melville wrote it.)

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...