by Herman Melville
Moby-Dick Chapter 124: The Needle Summary
- In the morning, the sea is still a little choppy as Ahab stands on the deck, imagining that the ship is "the sea-chariot of the sun" (124.3)—because of the direction the Pequod is headed, it looks like the ship is pulling the sun along behind it.
- Suddenly, Ahab realizes what this means: the ship is headed west instead of east.
- Starbuck and Ahab examine the compasses, which suggest that the ship is going east as it’s supposed to. The magnetism of the compass needles has been disturbed by the storm.
- Ahab determines that the compasses have been exactly reversed, something not unheard of on long sea voyages, and orders the ship to turn around.
- Ahab makes a new needle for one of the compasses by magnetizing one of the needles used for sewing the sails.
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