CR Episode 188: Moby Dick, Part XIV

Moby Dick: The End, by Rockwell Kent
Moby Dick: The End, by Rockwell Kent

Download Link: Released on 14 August 2023

In the final episode on Moby Dick, the panel discusses the fulfilment of Fedallah’s prophecy and his death, Starbuck’s dilemma and despair, the destruction of the Pequod, the death of Ahab, Ishmael on the margins, and some final genre considerations.


  1. Our teachers didn’t have much confidence in our reading abilities. Our three books or so we read total seemed to be chosen based on length.

    We read Hamsun, buy not Hunger or any other more well known work, we read his shortest clocking in under 100 pages. A fun one although I didn’t enjoy it as much then.

    Of Mice and Men. I really enjoyed this reading it a few years ago, but I detested it in school. But let’s be honest here. I might have projected the fact that the teacher didn’t like me, and I didn’t like him much, onto the book.

    And finally most disappointingly we read an incredibly boring coming of age story from a half known Norwegian author I don’t remember the name of. I didn’t like coming of age stories for years and still when I read that in a blurb I feel a little groan inside me even though I don’t mislike them now.


    ~ back to listening

  2. No whaling plans. I think I’m well satisfied heading to sea through Melville’s masterpiece. I’m already longing to read it again which is not common for me right away. There’s just so much here.

  3. Every reading of Moby Dick is like a going on a voyage. It is similar to how Starbuck describes the chase – the first part is the morning, the center the noon, and the last the evening and the end of that thing.

    Now that we are at the end of that thing, it is interesting to think about what other ends might have been possible.

    1. Fedallah or Ahab? Ray Bradbury invented the image of Ahab lashed to the whale that everyone knows. In an interview, he said that for one day he became Herman Melville and finished the script for the 1956 Gregory Peck movie by writing madly for 8 hours. “It was in my bloodstream and it came out of my fingertips.” He said “I’d like to think that Melville, if he ever saw the film, would approve of Ahab being on the side of the whale and gesturing to the men.”

    Would Melville have approved of this ending in which the crew is now monomaniacal like Ahab, thus bringing about their ultimate doom by continuing the attack after his death?

    In the movie, Ahab does not endure the woe of seeing Moby Dick destroy the Pequod. Is it necessary for him to see the utter destruction of the Pequod and his crew, but yet not give up, essential for the ending?

    2. What do you think would have happened if Ahab had succeeded in killing Moby Dick? Possible scenarios:

    A. Ahab is ecstatically happy. They continue the voyage, catch lots of whales, and return home with a ship full of oil. Ahab has a wonderful retirement with his wife and son.

    B. After initial joy, Ahab soon realizes that killing Moby Dick has not changed anything. He is back to an ordinary existence with all the woes he had before but has lost his reason for living. He falls into a deep depression. Back in Nantucket, he becomes an unhappy recluse.

    C. As above, Ahab’s joy soon turns into the realization that killing Moby Dick has not changed the world or assuaged his woes. He quickly finds something else to be obsessed about – perhaps the silver calabash he spat in that Elijah mentioned. He leads the Pequod on another quest to find the cursed calabash that he thinks has caused all his misery.

    D. Something else? Speculate please!

    One of the many things I love about Moby Dick are all the related adaptations and media. Below are a few of mine. Please share yours!

    Higgledy Piggledy Whale Statements – Two very good friends discuss the book in depth in 36 episodes, followed by 12 appendices discussing Moby Dick related movies, the musical, a roller coaster, and much more.

    Moby Dick Energy – An investigative reporter invites a friend each week to discuss a chapter. Episodes include food writers discussing chowder, artists discussing whale images, and musicians discussing the hymn. The podcast stopped at Chapter 57 – I am hopeful she takes it up again at some point.

    Power Moby Dick – annotated text on website. Links to the searchable Internet Archive text. Also offers a quiz at the end and a certificate to document you have finished the book.

    DIck – the card game. No knowledge of the book necessary for guaranteed laughter. Players select cards with phrases from the book and then vie for which one is the funniest answer to a random question. The three puzzle-like Moby Dick illustrations by Sergio Garcia Sanchez are fantastic. The originals are in the Seamen’s Bethel in New Bedford. – You can call Ishmael at 774-325-0503 and leave a message about your favorite book. Listen to messages on the website or read them in the book – The Call Me Ishmael Phonebook. Scott Norsworthy’s site with tons of very interesting information about Moby Dick.

    Least favorite Moby Dick related adaptation – “The Age of Dragons” – Dr. C and Dr. K made a good call in declining to watch this movie. It was so bad that the best part was when the captioning translated “I am the Fates’ lieutenant” as “I am the fates of tenants”!

    Many many thanks to our professors and all my shipmates who made this voyage so delightful and interesting.

    Like Disa’s insightful comment about the end of the book bringing you back to the beginning, I too am feeling a little damp and drizzly in my soul and perhaps need to set out to sea again. Good news – it is only 5 months until the New Bedford Moby Dick Marathon!

  4. Thank you for your comments! We’ll be including them at the beginning of episode 191 (because our 190 episode, as you will find, ran well over time).

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