Tag Archives: Ahab

“You feared neither Cod nor man, and now you shall die.”

Captain Ahab threw his harpoon; it lodged in Moby Dick’s side, and the rope pulled Ahab after it. The great white whale sounded; when he resurfaced, Ahab was lashed to him by the rope. What did Moby Dick (or God) whisper in Ahab’s ear, down in the deep sea?

This may be it!

The sentence sits in my Book with no context, and the Horrors that precede and follow give no possible hint. I don’t teach Melville’s wondrous novel (how could it be adequately done except in a dedicated seminar?), and I can’t recall ever getting a paper about it. The gradebook where it was recorded was 2007-08, so remembering shouldn’t be all that hard.

Associating what my student wrote with Captain Ahab is all in my imagination. I have no other guesses, either—not even about texts that would suggest the sentence my student meant to write.

Of course she meant to type “God.” But she didn’t proofread, so I have to treat her typo as intentional.

As it stands, it may be at the least a sober warning to all us New Englanders, and especially the people of Massachusetts. Time to become cod-fearing?

Whatever she was talking about, this is one great sentence, ringing with majesty and doom. Glory hallelujah.

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
This picture of the Atlantic cod from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Atlantic_cod.jpg