Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Exploring Death in the Novels, Moby Dick and Ahabs Wife :: Moby Dick Essays
Exploring Death in the Novels, Moby Dick and Ahab's Wife Nineteen years of my life has passed. By age nineteen, Una Spencer of Ahab's Wife had experienced numerous cycles of contentment and isolation, safety and loss. I cannot pretend to say that I have lived even as marginally an emotionally tumultuous life as Una's, but like most people, I can say something of loss and sacrifice. One of the last things my grandmother said on the hospital bed in which she died was to ask my mother whether I had been accepted to my first-choice college. I was not with my grandmother when she died, but the fact that she had asked about something so inconsequential and irrelevant about my life reveals the way she viewed her own life and death: without idealization, regret, or fear. She instead left my family with a legacy of love, selflessness, and beauty. "Don't ask when you will die. Ask how you can live more fully...Am I dying? No. I am living until I can't live anymore" (Caputo). Stated by a writer with terminal cancer, this quotation encompasses how I want to live my life, which is why I have a difficult time understanding the characters of Moby Dick and Ahab's Wife, particularly those of the former. Many of the crew on damned Pequod knew that their ship was destined for death, yet they did not protest their lot, but rather accepted their inevitable fate with an emotionless resignation as though they had died even before they stepped foot on the ship. They died as if to avoid the pain of living; a passive suicide. The crew of the Sussex, however, was less overt in their willingness to end their lives because they had led a comparatively gratifying existence. Giles and Kit had their companionship to savor on quiet nights, while Captain Fry had Chester to love. These characters were not emotionally-devoid, just weak of spirit-too de pendant on ephemeral quiet waters to keep them safe. Death seems to be a recurrent presence in both novels. Almost all of the characters of Moby Dick perish by the end of the novel, while many of the people whom Una loves are abruptly taken from her life. However, there is a discrepancy in the manner in which the various characters meet their end. Both captains are suicidal, but there is a much larger element of sadness in Captain Fry's death.