Melville describes the fabled harpooner
who, like Conrad later on, left his normal berth "to go in a trading ship on a voyage to Africa, went ashore there, joined a discovery party and penetrated far into the interior, where he traveled for a period of nearly two years, often endangered by serpents, savages, tigers [sic], poisonous miasmas, with all the other common perils incidental to wandering in the heart of unknown regions" (247).
Three teenagers were our spotters and harpooners
. We rolled our boat along logs on the black beach and headed out to sea.
Sea Shepherd said it had located all five Japanese vessels and was now in pursuit, forcing the harpooners
to cut short their operation and retreat.
Work in the whaling industry was unusually well paid and therefore highly competitive; consequently, workers who failed to attain high achievements could (with the exception of specialized positions such as harpooners
) be easily replaced or demoted.
The team hired the Ezyduzit, a "shark-hunting" boat run by captains Bill and Nick Chaprales, professional harpooners
who could apply the tags.
But Ahab seems to go even further than Faust, who had signed a compact with Mephistopheles selling his soul in exchange for divine, superhuman power: Ahab does not know God or the devil directly, he only has a glimpse of Elijah's fire divinity, and so through his quest he becomes a devil of sorts, "the devil himself" (Stanford 1991: 37), or the messenger of the fire God who seems to have communed with him through the thunder (in the Cape Horn episode): this transformation seems to be marked off by the pagan ritual Ahab undertakes, in front of the horrifyingly bewitched crew, of consecrating his harpoon with the blood of his three pagan harpooners
and with fire:
It spent much of its time close to shore, swimming well within reach of harpooners
' rowboats, and when killed it floated, unlike other species that sank when struck.
Seen through the eyes of Queequeg and his fellow harpooners
, the white whale becomes a fellow warrior, whose battle-scarred skin constitutes his own form of moko communicating both his mana and tapu.
Ahab opposes the paganism of the harpooners
, Lawrence opposes the Islam of his tribesmen.
Some tuna are being taken, mostly by harpooners
. Trolling for them has been relatively unproductive.
'While their masters, the mates, seemed afraid of the sound of the hinges of their own jaws', wrote Melville, 'the harpooners
chewed their food with such a relish that there was a report to it'.
In Moby-Dick, Melville depicts native exploitation through the ship's harpooners
, whose dangerous work supports the rest of the crew, and as the Pequod sinks in the final scene, Tashtego, the faithful American Indian, is still loyally attempting to nail Captain Ahab's doomed flag to the mast.