Chapters 43-47 Summary

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In the middle of the night, one of the crew members claims to have heard coughing sounds emanating from below the hatches of the ship, a place where the crew is not allowed; however, the other crew members do not take his concerns seriously, with one man joking that the cause might be something he ate. 

While the men go about their daily responsibilities, Ahab spends his time meticulously examining nautical charts in his cabin, aiming to chart a course that will lead him to Moby Dick. The elusive whale has been spotted in the same location and season, known as Season-on-the-Line, for several years. This season is still almost a year away, so Ahab spends his time plotting the migration routes of sperm whales in the interim.

Ishmael provides evidence to support his statements about whales. He points out that whales possess identifiable characteristics and are assigned individual names such as Rinaldo Rinaldini, Timor Tom, Don Miguel, and others. Additionally, he notes that sperm whales have been responsible for the complete destruction of ships, such as the Essex from Nantucket.

Ahab's utilization of the Pequod to serve his own objectives has made him vulnerable; by pursuing Moby Dick relentlessly with no thought for the initial objectives of the voyage, he could be very easily accused of taking over authority and eschewing the owners’ contract. As such, the crew could lawfully rebel against him. To pacify the crew, particularly Starbuck, Ahab must pursue other whales in the meantime.

Later, as Queequeg and Ishmael kneel on the Pequod’s deck, making a mat to lash to the sides of the ship, another sailor cries out, announcing that he has seen a whale. The crew springs into action, lowering their boats to the water’s surface and preparing to pursue the "five dark shapes" before them.

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Chapters 41-42 Summary


Chapters 48-51 Summary