Throughout the beginning voyage of the Pequod, multiple members of the crew refer to destiny and the idea that there is no turning away from it. Ahab in particular believes that it is his destiny to kill Moby Dick as it was Moby Dick’s destiny to disfigure and mutilate him, specifically in taking his leg. Other crew members accept this belief, especially Stubb, and are willing to go along with Ahab’s fool-hearty plan of revenge because of it. Is this belief actually a truth for each man or is it an escape from responsibility?
Ahab claims to have had his future told to him and is only following what he believes to be the way things are meant to be. The way in which he discusses his revenge and the overwhelming drive of it states otherwise though, it seems more of an obsession with Moby Dick instead of an accepted knowledge that it is meant to be. Would he need to be full of anguish and work so hard if it was set in stone? In bribing the crew with the gold doubloon and having the ritual of binding, Ahab is ensuring that the crew will work with him, but if it was destiny, he wouldn’t need to convince them since it was always meant to end that way. Also, in believing it is destiny, Ahab can remove all guilt that might plague him because destiny has taken away the responsibility of it. The men who die were always meant to die, thus he is not to blame.
Stubb also buys into the idea of destiny versus the overwhelming presence of obsession with Ahab. He speaks out against Ahab for pushing the men so hard, but the moment Ahab makes to fight him, Stubb retreats. Later he has a dream and decides with advice that it is better to be dominated by Ahab than to fight back. Following this idea, Stubb might have decided to believe in destiny because it is easier to believe that than the truth which is that he is a coward, especially since he wants everyone to believe he laughs in the face of danger. In comparing him to Ahab, both men more likely believe in the idea that destiny removes responsibility more than the idea of destiny itself.