Moby Dick Chapter 36
One morning, after breakfast, not long after he threw his pipe overboard, Ahab comes onto the deck. He paces back and forth, as he usually does, but the dents of his ivory leg into the ship seem more pronounced. Stubb notices this, and tells Flask that he thinks whatever has been bothering Ahab will soon come out.
Ahab goes back below to his cabin; then, near the end of the day, he comes back up, and tells Starbuck to summon all the men to the deck. This is an unusual order, made only in times of great importance.
Once all the men are up, Ahab asks them what they do if they see a whale: "Sing out for him!" And next? "Lower away, and after him!" These answers please Ahab. He pulls out a doubloon, and announces:
"'Whosoever of ye raises me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke- look ye, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, he shall have this gold ounce, my boys!'" Chapter 36, pg. 135
He nails the coin to the mast. Tashtego asks if Ahab is speaking of Moby-Dick, and Ahab says he is. Starbuck asks if Moby-Dick was the one who took Ahab's leg, and Ahab says it was. He swears he will chase Moby-Dick around they globe till he (the whale) is dead. The men are all eager to be with him, and Ahab sends for some drink. Starbuck doesn't look convinced, so Ahab tells him that he seeks Moby-Dick to avenge himself of all the wrongs in the world:
"'All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event- in the living act, the undoubted deed- there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me.'" Chapter 36, pg. 136
Starbuck gives in. The drink is brought out, and the men stand around in a circle; Ahab passes the drink to each man. A ceremony is performed, where each man drinks, and the harpoons are baptized by the drink. Ahab swears for them all to hunt Moby-Dick to the death, and then has the men disperse. He returns to his cabin.