With matted beard, and swathed in a bristling shark-skin apron, about mid-day, Perth was standing between his forge and anvil, the latter placed upon an iron-wood log, with one hand holding a pike-head in the coals, and with the other at his forge's lungs, when Captain Ahab came along, carrying in his hand a small rusty-looking leathern bag. While yet a little distance from the forge, moody Ahab paused; till at last, Perth, withdrawing his iron from the fire, began hammering it upon the anvil—the red mass sending off the sparks in thick hovering flights, some of which flew close to Ahab. Thy shrunk voice sounds too calmly, sanely woeful to me. In no Paradise myself, I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad.
As the Pequod enters the "sweet mystery" of the Pacific Ocean, Ishmael understands why most seamen find serenity in these vast waters. That is not the case with Ahab. His purpose intensifies as he prepares for the meeting with the White Whale. The captain asks his blacksmith, Perth, to shape him an especially powerful harpoon. We learn the tragic history of Perth's background and witness a demonic baptism of Ahab's new weapon. These short chapters begin the final movement of the novel toward a showdown between Ahab and Moby Dick.
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What is so foreboding about the forging of the harpoon? Why do you think Ahab asks his men to "baptize" the harpoon in their own blood? Next he wants a harpoon made -- a special, voodoo-like harpoon for Moby Dick.