127 Ahab and the Carpenter CHAPTER 127 THE DECK.THE DECK: Some chapter titles listed in the American edition's table of contents do not precisely match the title as it appears on the chapter's title page. In this case, Chapter 127, titled "The Deck" is listed as "Ahab and the Carpenter." The British edition's content listing matches the chapter heading, "The Deck." However, the British version is not a likely correction of a presumed American edition typographical error, although an error seems to have occurred. One likelihood is that Melville's intended title was something like "The Deck. Ahab and the Carpenter," which like similar titles gives both setting and characters, as if the chapter were a scene in a stageplay. Even though this supposed title would reprise the title of Ch. 108, such a repetition might also have been intended. The coffin laid upon two line-tubs, between the vice-bench and the open hatchway; the Carpenter calking its seams; the string of twisted oakum slowly unwinding from a large roll of it placed in the bosom of his frock.—Ahab comes slowly from the cabin-gangway, and hears Pip following him. Back, lad; I will beREVISION NARRATIVE: I will be // Probably Melville, not an editor, altered “I will” to “I’ll” in the British edition to signal Ahab’s growing intimacy with Pip. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin. with ye again presently. He goes! Not this hand complies with my humor more genially than that boy.—Middle aisle of a churchMiddle aisle of a church: location for the coffin at a funeral. ! What’s here?” “Life-buoy, sir. Mr. Starbuck’s orders. Oh, look, sir! Beware the hatchway!” “Thank ye, man. Thy coffin lies handy to the vault.” “Sir? The hatchway? oh! So it does, sir, so it does.” “Art not thou the leg-maker? Look, did not this stump come from thy shop?” “I believe it did, sir; does the ferruleferrule: strengthening metal band. stand, sir?” “Well enough. But art thou not also the undertaker?” “Aye, sir; I patched up this thing here as a coffin for Queequeg; but they’ve set me now to turning it into something else.” “Then tell me; art thou not an arrant, all-grasping, intermeddling, monopolizing, heathenish old scamp, to be one day making legs, and the next day coffins to clap them in, and yet again life-buoys out of those same coffins? Thou art as unprincipled as the gods, and as much of a jack-of-all-trades.” “But I do not mean anything, sir. I do as I do.” “The gods again. Hark ye, dost thou not ever sing working about a coffin? The Titans, they say, hummed snatches when chipping out the craters for volcanoes; and the grave-digger in the playthe grave-digger in the play sings, spade in hand: In Hamlet, 5.1. sings, spade in hand. Dost thou never?” “Sing, sir? Do I sing? Oh, I’m indifferent enough, sir, for that; but the reason why the grave-digger made music must have been because there was none in his spade, sir. But the calking mallet is full of it. Hark to it.” “Aye, and that’s because the lid there’s a sounding-board; and what in all things makes the sounding-board is this—there’s naught beneath. And yet, a coffin with a body in it rings pretty much the same, Carpenter. Hast thou ever helped carry a bier, and heard the coffin knock against the church-yard gate, going in?” “Faith, sir, I’ve———” “Faith? What’s that?” “Why, faith, sir, it’s only a sort of exclamation-like—that’s all, sir.” “Um, um; go on.” “I was about to say, sir, that———” “Art thou a silk-worm? Dost thou spin thy own shroud out of thyself? Look at thy bosomLook at thy bosom!: According to the stage directions that open the chapter, the carpenter is sealing Queequeg’s coffin and stashes his supply of caulking so that it dangles out of his shirtfront and over his chest. Ahab points to the carpenter’s bosom and likens him to a silkworm weaving its own shroud.! Despatch! and get these traps out of sightREVISION NARRATIVE: get these traps out of sight // The British version reads “out of my sight.” The insertion of “my” appropriately modifies Ahab’s order: in the American version he gives the impossible command that the process of converting Queequeg’s coffin into a life-buoy be concealed from everyone’s view; in the British, he orders the process hidden from his view only. The revision, probably made by Melville, underscores Ahab’s growing anxiety. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin.." “He goes aft. That was sudden, now; but squalls come sudden in hot latitudes. I’ve heard that the Isle of AlbemarleIsle of Albemarle: The largest of the Galápagos group and now known as Isla Isabela, it was the site of a sperm whale breeding ground and is featured in Melville’s “The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles"; see "another and still stranger world" in Ch. 87. See also "Gallipagos terrapin" in Ch. 54 and "this wondrous extermination" in Ch. 105., one of the Gallipagos, is cut by the Equator right in the middle. Seems to me some sort of Equator cuts yon old man, too, right in his middle. He’s always under the Line—fiery hot, I tell ye! He’s looking this way—come, oakum; quick. Here we go again. This wooden mallet is the cork, and I’m the professor of musical glassesmusical glasses: Using its common name, the carpenter imagines himself tuning the glass harmonica, a popular instrument from the mid-eighteenth to early nineteenth century, whose tuned glasses, filled with different amounts of liquid, were played with moistened fingers. Benjamin Franklin invented an improved version, with revolving glass bowls and no liquid.—tap, tap!” (Ahab to himself.) “There’s a sight! There’s a sound! The greyheaded wood-pecker tapping the hollow tree! Blind and dumb might well be envied nowBlind and dumb might well be envied now: Ahab’s opening words in his soliloquy, “There’s a sight! There’s a sound!” set up a parallelism imperfectly matched in the subsequent line in which Ahab wishes he might be “Blind and dumb.” This is a sight he does not want to see and a sound he does not want to hear; therefore, “blind and deaf” is the expected phrase. A likely cause of the error is that the phrase “blind and dumb,” repeated in a scene from one of Jesus’ miracles (Matthew 12.22), may have come to mind while Melville was writing. The NN edition emends “dumb” to “deaf.” Because the error does not seriously confuse the reader, MEL makes no change.. See! that thing rests on two line-tubs, full of tow-lines. A most malicious wag, that fellow. Rat-tat! So man’s seconds tick! Oh! how immaterial are all materials! What things real are there, but imponderable thoughts? Here now’s the very dreaded symbol of grim death, by a mere hap, made the expressive sign of the help and hope of most endangered life. A life-buoy of a coffin! Does it go further? Can it be that in some spiritual sense the coffin is, after all, but an immortality-preserver! I’ll think of that. But no. So far gone am I in the dark side of earthREVISION NARRATIVE: the dark side of earth // In the British edition, “the” has been inserted to give “the dark side of the earth.” The change alters meaning significantly, and brings the imagery closer to a recurring pattern in Melville’s writing that contrasts, but also combines, the dark and bright sides of reality. In his soliloquy, Ahab refers to the planet Earth, with its night and day hemispheres. Although the world revolves through these dark and bright regions, Ahab claims he is stuck in the dark side always: for him, the bright side seems only “theoretic,” and twilight (that is, light becoming darkness) is uncertainty. (In a positive inversion of this image found in “Hawthorne and his Mosses,” Melville likens Hawthorne’s fiction, which unites bright and dark views, to an “evermoving dawn.”) But, in the American edition, “earth” (not capitalized and without the definite article) may indicate mere soil, not the actual revolving planet. Of course, Melville may have initially intended this symbolic meaning so that Ahab seems to position himself in the perpetual darkness of materiality (earth); however, “the earth” indicates an equally intentional shift in symbol to the image of the planet, and is congruent with the “twilight” imagery that concludes the sentence. Whether a correction or revision, the change was probably made by Melville and not an editor. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin., that its other side, the theoretic bright one, seems but uncertain twilight to me. Will ye never have done, Carpenter, with that accursed sound? I go below; let me not see that thing here when I return again. Now, then, Pip, we’ll talk this over; I do suck most wondrous philosophies from thee! Some unknown conduits from the unknown worlds must empty into thee!”