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On Lingering and Being LastRace and Sovereignty in the New World$
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Jonathan Elmer

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780823229406

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823229406.001.0001

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Jefferson's Convulsions: Archiving Logan

Jefferson's Convulsions: Archiving Logan

(p.118) Four: Jefferson's Convulsions: Archiving Logan
On Lingering and Being Last
Fordham University Press

In this chapter the author focuses on the figure of the captive king led away from what Wai-Chee Dimock has convincingly argued is the dominant racial logic of Moby-Dick, namely, the fate linking Ahab and his voyage with the “doomed”Indians after whom his ship is named. The Pequod, Ishmael explains, were a “celebrated tribe of Massachusetts Indians” now as “extinct as the ancient Medes.” The last man to go down with the ship in Moby-Dick is Tashtego, the Gay-Head Indian, whose final act is to nail a sky-hawk's wing to the mainmast. The royal slave or captive king, insofar as he is essentially African, is fundamentally deterritorialized: his mythic element is the sea, and the ideal event to which the tradition orients its confused thinking about him is an ever-postponed emancipation.

Keywords:   Moby-Dick, emancipation, Tashtego, sea, captive king, deterritorialized

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