Study Guide

Moby-Dick Chapter 108: Ahab and the Carpenter

By Herman Melville

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Chapter 108: Ahab and the Carpenter

  • The novel returns to a playbook-style format with stage directions.
  • In the evening, the carpenter is working on Ahab’s new ivory leg by lantern-light.
  • The blacksmith is working, too, in the background.
  • The carpenter murmurs to himself about the leg as he works on it.
  • Ahab visits the carpenter so the length of the leg can be measured.
  • He asks the carpenter what the blacksmith is doing, and the carpenter explains that the blacksmith is making the buckle-screw.
  • Ahab describes the blacksmith as a second Prometheus, and jokes that he’s going to order him to forge a completely mechanical man.
  • Ahab begins to talk to about creation, and the carpenter doesn’t know whether he’s talking to himself or not.
  • Then Ahab asks the carpenter if, in addition to making the new bone leg, he can make Ahab stop feeling the old leg in its place, which, of course, he can’t.
  • Ahab laments the fact that he must depend on the carpenter’s help, when he’d rather feel himself entirely free and independent.
  • The carpenter resumes his work, reminding himself that Stubb always calls Ahab "queer" and feeling the truth of that label.

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