Study Guide

Moby-Dick Chapter 112: The Blacksmith

By Herman Melville

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Chapter 112: The Blacksmith

  • The old blacksmith, Perth, has plenty of other work to do after he finishes his portion of Ahab’s new leg: he’s working constantly on new harpoons and lances and other weapons for the men.
  • Perth limps slightly, and the men pester him until he tells them his story: one winter night he was traveling on the road and had to take refuge in a barn, and the tips of both his feet were lost to frostbite.
  • For most of his life, Perth was a well-to-do artisan with a nice family, but he was robbed—by his own alcoholism.
  • His drinking weakened him until he could manage less and less blacksmithing.
  • Eventually, he had to sell his house, his wife and two of his three children died, and Perth began to wander the streets.
  • Perth escapes all this by joining a whaling ship.

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