Chapter 111: “The Pacific”
The Pequod reaches the Pacific where somewhere swims Moby Dick.
Chapter 112: “The Blacksmith”
We meet the blacksmith of the ship, an aging man named Perth who had once been a well to do English blacksmith with a wife and children. He took to drink, and when his family died in poverty, he went to sea in remorse, wandering like Ahab, a haunted man. Ahab for that reason has some sympathy with him, though not enough to take the attention from his own suffering: “In no paradise myself, I am impatient of all misery in others . . . How cans’t thou endure without being mad?” (113.481).
Chapter 113: “The Forge”
Ahab gives Perth hard nails and razor blades to forge a deadly harpoon barb for Moby Dick. Then he calls on the three pagan harpooners, Tashtego, Queequeg, and Daggoo, to baptize it in blood and oaths.
Chapter 114: “The Gilder”
The Pequod enters the Japanese fishing ground, but even though the whales are abundant, they do not catch any. In the mirror-like calm of the ocean, a man can contemplate, for the sea is like a friend.
Analysis Chapters 111, 112, 113, and 114
Ahab, as usual, is unable to enjoy the fresh and mild breezes of the Pacific, as he knows he is nearing the final confrontation with Moby Dick. He is contrasted to another sufferer, the blacksmith, Perth. Perth, however, like Captain Boomer with the whale bone arm, has accepted his lot. He patiently plies his trade without hope: “Because I am scorched all over . . . I am past scorching” (113. 481). Ahab’s wound, however, is always fresh; it keeps him alive, and yet he is truly as dead as Perth. Perth, at least, has no more harm in him, whereas Ahab continues to strike out in all directions.
As Perth is forging the point, Ahab takes over the hammer himself, and we see Fedallah hovering around invoking some magic curse. Ahab finally makes a diabolic christening of the point with the blood and curses of the harpooners. What we sow, we reap. Ahab is christening his own death.
Meanwhile, the mild Pacific draws the best out of the other men. Starbuck murmurs, “Let faith oust fact . . . I look deep down and do believe” (114. 485). Stubb looks into the deep and sees his own jolliness there. In that way, Ishmael shows us over and over that human perception is not objective. Everything around us becomes a mirror in which we see ourselves.