In this very short chapter, Ahab smokes a pipe and sits on the quarterdeck, appearing, according to the narrator (who is perhaps still Ishmael, although Ishmael is not present in the scene), to be the “king” of his domain—the Pequod and the sea filled with whales. But Ahab gets no joy out of smoking his pipe, and throws it angrily into the ocean.
In this fateful scene Ahab casts away the final piece of enjoyment to him, on earth, that does not have to do with pursuing the whale. Ahab will throw other things overboard later on, including the instruments used to direct the ship in the open ocean. His life becomes narrower and narrower, focused solely on Moby Dick.