The Symphony - The real Part Four

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01.01.2010, 13:33:5301.01.10

The Symphony Part Four


There is information in Chapter 132 The Symphony that can help determine when Moby Dick took Ahab’s leg.


The Pequod leaves Nantucket Christmas Day 1838. We know from reading The Symphony, the Ahabs had a child equipped with outside plumbing.  That son had to have been born before the Ship left harbor. Mr. and Mrs. Ahab must have gotten together nine months earlier, which would place Ahab in Nantucket April 1838.


We can make some general, rounded number calculations. The distance from the tip of South America to Nantucket is 8,100 miles. Chapter 41 Moby Dick informs us Ahab went mad while traversing the Patagonian Cape at mid winter, months and weeks after his leg was bitten off by the whale.  Recall from 5th grade geography class the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere so mid winter at the Patagonian Cape translates as June 21 at the tip of South America. The distance, again in round numbers between the southern tip of South America to Nantucket is 8, 100 miles. From other considerations described later, a ship of the Pequod’s design was capable of 80 statute miles in a 24-hour day. It would take the Pequod roughly 100 days to achieve the distance from the southern tip of South America to Nantucket. This would place Ahab back home late August or early September 1837. This is certainly enough time for the Ahab’s to conceive a child April 1838.


Another leg of that voyage involves the distance from the place where Ahab’s leg was taken by the whale to the Patagonian Cape.  Remember the passage past the southern tip of South America occurred June 21st.  The first paragraph of Chapter 130 The Hat informs the reader the Pequod was “… hard by the very latitude and longitude where his tormenting wound had been inflicted…” The Pequod crossed the equator heading southward in the previous chapter.  The distance from this area, in round numbers was the equator at 150 degrees west longitude to the Patagonian Cape. That distance is 5,900 miles. The Pequod could achieve this distance in 74 days.  It places the amputation of Ahab’s leg no earlier in the year of April 1837.


The time from the point of amputation to Nantucket is based on a speed a ship such as the Pequod can attain while cruising from one hunting ground to the next.  With the wounded captain aboard, the ship was no doubt rigged with sails to achieve the greatest speed.  This would have the effect of shortening the time of the Pacific and Atlantic legs of the remainder of the voyage but allow for a mid winter passage through the Patagonian Cape.

It is interesting to note that May 4, 1837 a partial eclipse of the sun occurred in the north Atlantic.  Melville associates whale encounters with new moon, and solar eclipses with Ahab’s leg.  A solar eclipse is after all, a special case of new moon. May 1837 was the start of deep recession very much like what we are going through today.  It was the month Maria Gansevoort Melville, Herman’s mother, lost her fortune and inheritance in the great recession of 1837. She had to live modestly and on handouts from that month on.


It might be worth noting of an incident before the Pequod’s sail of Ahab being found one night “… lying prone upon the ground, and insensible; by some unknown, and seemingly inexplicable, unimaginable casualty, his ivory limb having so violently displaced, that it had stake-wise smitten, and all but pierced his groin; nor was it without extreme difficulty that the agonizing wound was entirely cured.” The incident is reported in Chapter 106 Ahab’s Leg. Interesting to note this chapter occurs during a solar eclipse of September 08 1839 though the eclipse was not visible from the Pequod’s location in the South China Sea.  September 18 1838 however, marks an annular eclipse of the sun visible at sunset from Nantucket.  As we can relate Ahab’s leg to solar eclipses; September 18 1838 is the date of the incident addressed in the body Chapter 106.


I contend it less likely Ahab would have mounted a voyage to satisfy revenge on the whale if that sunset accident did not occur.  After all while on dry land he was home, fathered a child and surrounded with “…comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm blankets, friends, all that is kind to our mortalities.” All that dissolves with the solar eclipse visible from Nantucket. Those forces that animate the whale are not confined to the watery world. Ahab, now a storm tossed ship must forgo land for the sea.

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fin john

02.01.2010, 13:35:1402.01.10
      You must redo part one. You have it about nutrition. What happened to part three?   John Gretchko



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02.01.2010, 15:35:1602.01.10

Thanks.. I've resubmitted the five sections and came within an ace of making the same transmission errors.


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