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CHAPTER 100: LEG AND ARM. THE PEQUOD, OF NANTUCKET, MEETS THE SAMUEL ENDERBY, OF LONDON
"Ship ahoy," cries Captain Ahab. "Hast seen the White Whale?"
In answer the captain of the approaching British ship unfolds his jacket to reveal a false arm. Ahab hurries to meet a fellow victim of Moby-Dick, though his own bone leg requires that he be hoisted to the British ship on a blubber-hook. So excited is Ahab that he continually interrupts Captain Boomer's account of the milky-white whale that dragged him into the sea where he sliced his arm on his own harpoon.
With humorous politeness, Captain Boomer now turns his story over to Bunger, the Samuel Enderby's surgeon, who, with many interruptions, describes how he amputated the arm. The conversation, with its drily witty accusations of drinking and bad temper, is very funny: these are two good friends. But Ahab is incapable of appreciating either humor or friendship.
Captain Boomer tells Ahab that he glimpsed Moby-Dick twice more, but didn't chase him. Losing one arm is enough. But what Captain Boomer thinks is best left alone is the very thing that most draws Ahab. When Dr. Bunger jokingly checks Ahab to see if he's feverish, the Pequod's captain roars into a rage so great Captain Boomer asks if he's crazy. But the man Boomer asks is Fedallah, fully a part of the mad quest. Ahab and his dark companion leave the Enderby, ignoring the British captain's shouts.
Aside from being two of the funniest characters in Moby-Dick, Captain Boomer and Surgeon Bunger are representatives of a common-sense attitude toward the dangers of the world-if something has injured you once, it should be avoided in the future. And Bunger, in his dry, witty way, gives the common sense view that the whale is not evil, merely clumsy. But Ahab is incapable of such sense about the creature that maimed him. Do you think Bunger is right, or is he merely superficial?
CHAPTER 101: THE DECANTER
The Samuel Enderby, Ishmael tells us, is named for the founder of a great English whaling house, Enderby and Sons. The ship is a jolly one, loaded with liquor, beef and beer-the rewards of concentrating on business and forgetting about Moby-Dick, perhaps. At any rate, a far cry, you might say, from the Pequod.Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version