What happens to Ahab, Moby Dick, and the Pequod at the end of the novel?  

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At the end of Herman Melville's Moby Dick, the White Whale (Moby Dick) rams into the Pequod , sinking her and killing all aboard, except Ishmael. Ahab also perishes when he gets tangled up in a harpoon line and is dragged out to sea. It is, in short,...

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At the end of Herman Melville's Moby Dick, the White Whale (Moby Dick) rams into the Pequod, sinking her and killing all aboard, except Ishmael. Ahab also perishes when he gets tangled up in a harpoon line and is dragged out to sea. It is, in short, a brutal ending that offers no solace for the reader.

You could interpret this ending in multiple ways. One reading is that Ahab and the Pequod's demise is an analogy for the dangers of obsession and revenge; another potential reading is that Mother Nature will always triumph over humanity's futile attempts to tame Her. Still another reading (and one of my personal favorites), is that Ahab's demise and the whale's victory points to our inability to determine an Ultimate Meaning for human life; our existential quest, in other words, is doomed to fail, because the task is as mammoth and insurmountable as a White Whale. While this last reading is undoubtedly depressing, it does point to Melville's brilliance, as it shows the author wrestling with classic Modernist problems well before the Modernists even existed. 

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