Chapter 125, “The Log and the Line”
The log attached to the line and dragged by the ship is a way to determine speed and direction. Unfortunately, it has been destroyed, so he orders the crew to make another. Pip volunteers but is sent away by the crew because of his madness. Ahab is attracted to Pip for that reason and says he wants the boy to be near him always, for they are connected.
Chapter 126, “The Life-Buoy”
The Pequod enters the equatorial waters, and one morning the crew hears something like human cries. It is only seals nearby, but it is taken as a bad omen. The omen is fulfilled when a seaman on watch at the mast falls into the sea and cannot be rescued because the buoy is rotten. He is lost. Someone suggests that Queequeg’s coffin be used as the new life-buoy, and the carpenter caulks it.
Analysis Chapters 125 and 126
A continuing metaphor is the difficulty of finding direction in the sea of life. First it was the quadrant, then the compass, now the log and line that are discarded or destroyed.
There is also no protection. Even the rotten life-buoy proves one cannot count on being upheld in life. Ahab must get to his goal by his will alone. He pities Pip as an image for his own abandonment: “Oh ye frozen heavens . . . ye did beget this luckless child, and have abandoned him, ye creative libertines” (125. 513). Like King Lear’s charge against the gods who “kill us for their sport,” Ahab blames God for human suffering.