If he did not have a common soul in him, he had a subtle something that somehow anomalously did its duty. What that was, whether essence of quicksilver, or a few drops of hartshorn, there is no telling. But there it was; and there it had abided for now some sixty years or more. And this it was, this same unaccountable, cunning life-principle in him; this it was, that kept him a great part of the time soliloquizing; but only like an unreasoning wheel, which also hummingly soliloquizes; or rather, his body was a sentry-box and this soliloquizer on guard there, and talking all the time to keep himself awake.
Shipkeeper. Where Ahab attempts to reach beyond his mortal constrictions, The Carpenter clings to his vice-bench, deals solely with the tangible world, is ‘a pure manipulator’. This comic foil of Ahab’s is revealed in a quite funny dramatic dialogue in Chapter 108: Ahab and the Carpenter, a dialogue which allows Ahab to describe his ‘complete man after a desirable pattern’, a human/industrial monster 50 feet tall, rooted in place, with acres of brains but ‘no heart at all.’ The Carpenter stands by, baffled, and even wonders to whom Ahab is speaking, since the obsessively descriptive monologue Ahab has embarked upon has long since left the humble Carpenter behind in the physical, tangible world.
Wood is life aboard a sailing ship in the 19th century, and The Carpenter’s powerful negation of STOVE BOAT is a reminder of that fact. While he is described as ‘repairing stove boats’, the immediate negation in our game hints at a pre-emptive reinforcement of your particular boat’s planks, oars and beams.
Original Image Courtesy of The New Bedford Whaling Museum.