Starbuck asks, in the night, if the anchors shouldn’t be further fixed, in order to keep the boat afloat in the storm, but Ahab tells Starbuck to “strike nothing,” and instead orders the mate to ride out the storm with the boat as is. Starbuck fears that this could mean the death of all the men aboard.
As in throwing away the quadrant, Ahab here expresses again to Starbuck that the fate of the crew is of no importance to him, nor the safety of the ship. Ahab seems to believe that fate will bring him to Moby Dick, and wants nothing to stand in the way of or thwart that fate. Starbuck previously feared that Ahab was going to destroy himself. Now he starts to fear that Ahab will destroy everyone onboard the Pequod. Just as the conflict between Ahab and Moby Dick pushes toward a crescendo, so does the conflict between Starbuck and Ahab.