Out of all of the characters portrayed in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick it seems most logical to conclude that Pip is the central source of divinity. Many have argued that Ahab and/or Moby Dick are the primary sources of divinity in the novel; I, on the other hand, disagree with this notion. I believe that Ahab simply represents a mortal man who is in search of divinity and is on a complementary mission to cast away evil, or Satan. Accordingly, Moby Dick represents evil/Satan in the novel; Ahab committed his life to the disempowerment of Moby Dick: “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee” (Melville, 623). I believe that Pip, though an unlikely source, is the divinity that Ahab so eagerly wishes to embrace on his journey: “Ye did beget this luckless child, and have abandoned him, ye creative liberties…Thou touches my inmost centre, boy; thou art tied to me by cords woven of my heart-strings” (Melville, 567).
Although pip is a character that seems to capacitate less than normal intelligence, he is a source of holiness on the Pequod. Moreover, Melville makes readers aware that Ahab—the ship’s captain who is of superior status—has accepted Pip as God’s own divinity: “Peace, thou crazy loon, cried the Manxman, seizing him [Pip] by the arm…The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser, muttered Ahab, advancing. Hands off from that holiness!” (Melville, 567). Pip’s role, as he is an unusual source of divinity, parallels the coffin’s unusual function as a life-preserver. The “Life-buoy of a coffin” is used to facilitate/enhance readers’ understanding of Pip’s divinity, as Ahab realizes that goodness can emanate from ironic sources: “A life-buoy of a coffin!...Can it be that in some spiritual sense the coffin is, after all, but an immortality-preserver!...So far gone am I in the dark side of the earth, that its other side, the theoretic bright one, seems but uncertain twilight to me…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!” (Melville, 574-575).
Furthermore, Pip’s speech to Queequeg, as Queequeg is lying in his coffin, can be understood in terms of Pip’s divinity. Although Queequeg had been direly ill he was able to eject himself from death’s bed after Pip’s speech; consequentially, I believe that Pip’s emanating divinity enabled the restoration of Queequeg’s health. Pip’s speech also functioned to inform Queequeg that he could not transgress to heaven because his work on earth had not been completed. As the speech appears to reveal, Pip (analogizing of Queequeg) resides in heaven but he has left something on earth—his tambourine (analogizing of Queequeg’s unfinished earthly duties):
Poor rover! Will ye never have done with all this weary roving? Where go ye now? But if the currents carry ye to those sweet Antilles where the beaches are only beat with water-lilies, will ye do one little errand for me? Seek out one Pip, who’s now been missing long…If ye find him, then comfort him; for he must be very sad; for look! He’s left his tambourine behind (Melville, 523).
Queequeg subsequently rises out of his coffin; however, because Pip is such an unlikely source of divinity, Queequeg ignorantly attributes the restoration of his health to his own will power: “In a word, it was Queequeg’s conceit, that if a man made up his mind to live, mere sickness could not kill him…” (Melville, 523). Contrarily, I believe that it is no coincidence that Queequeg’s health returned immediately after Pip’s speech. Divine Pip cured Queequeg and alerted him of his unfinished earthy duties, “So to my fond faith, poor Pip, in this strange sweetness of his lunacy, brings heavenly vouchers of all our heavenly homes” (Melville, 523). In conclusion, I believe that Pip, though an unlikely source, is the divinity that Ahab so eagerly wishes to embrace while on his voyage to defeat evil.