Chapter 99, “The Doubloon”
This is another chapter of Shakespearean interior monologues contrasting the points of view of various characters. The object is the Spanish gold doubloon nailed to the mast. Each day the crew passes it, and we hear their differing interpretations of it. The coin has an inscription and three Andes mountain peaks, with a flame, tower, and cock on the top. It is made of gold, which unlike the wood and iron around it, does not decay, but is ever bright. It seems to promise something different to each person. The mariners revere it as the talisman of the White Whale.
Analysis Chapter 99
Ahab sees the doubloon as a symbol of his power and mission. The religious Starbuck sees the three mountains as the Trinity. Stubb thinks of all the zodiacal signs and how each one represents a stage in the cycle of human striving. Flask only sees it as so many cigars he can buy. Queequeg is reminded of his own ceremonial tattoos, and Fedallah sees the sun that he worships. Pip is the crazy prophet who speaks truth: “Here’s the ship’s navel, this doubloon here, and they are all on fire to unscrew it . . . the White Whale: he’ll nail ye!” (99. 430-31).