what happened to Ahab in his first encounter with Moby Dick?  

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sensei918 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Herman Melville's Moby Dick, the story of the obsessed Captain Ahab and the object of his obsession, a huge white whale, is told through the eyes of a sailor called Ishmael who signs on as a member of the crew of the whaling ship, the Pequod. Though a mere sailor, Ishmael is literate and possesses a huge vocabulary along with the ability to spin a yarn. He is fascinated by his fellow crew members, especially Ahab. The mysterious captain is focused only on one thing: the capture and death of Moby Dick, and the entire expedition is dedicated to the white whale's demise. Through Ishmael's eloquent and elaborate account, the reader discovers that Ahab wears an ivory leg in place of the one he lost as a much younger man. He lost the leg to the very same Moby Dick, and that is the reason for his obsession. He wants revenge. The whale is depicted as having an awesome intelligence and awareness, and in every sense, he is Ahab's nemesis. Simply put, Ahab wants payback for the loss of his leg.