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Chapters 70 - 71
The Pequod meets another ship - the ‘Jeroboam.’ Once again, they cannot have a 'gamming' session, because of an epidemic on the Jeroboam. When the captain of Jeroboam, Mayhew says that he has seen the white whale, Ahab expresses his desire to meet him. From his boat, Mayhew tells Ahab about his mate Harry Macey who has been killed by the whale very recently. On the boat with Mayhew is a sailor Gabriel who thinks he is the archangel and that Moby Dick is a shaker God. He influences the entire crew on the Jeroboam. When Harry Macey had set out to chase Moby Dick, Gabriel had warned him saying that the whale is an incarnation of God.
During the conversation with Mayhew, Ahab remembers that among the letters they are carrying from Nantucket, there is one for a crew member of the ‘Jeroboam’. The letter is for Macey. When Ahab tries to hand the letter over to the captain, Gabriel flings it away and warns Ahab that a similar fate awaits him, if he continues his search for Moby Dick.
In this chapter, Gabriel, a self-styled prophet like Elijah, warns Ahab against chasing Moby Dick. He stands in contrast to another more subtle madman, Ahab who also has taken control of his ship in order to pursue the white whale. Both of these men underscore the power that the whale embodies. To Gabriel, the whale is an incarnated God and to Ahab, he is a symbol of universal evil.
‘Jeroboam’ is the first ship the Pequod meets, which has seen the white whale recently. In other words, Ahab is not very far away from his goal.