Chapter 25 Summary

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Last Updated April 25, 2023.

The topmost level of the ship Indomitable is mostly open and without cover, so it's not a preferred spot for sailors to hang out due to the weather exposure. Billy is confined in chains on the right side of the upper gun deck, specifically in one of the bays situated among the large guns.

The upper gun deck is predominantly colored black, including the guns and carriages. Melville portrays Billy's outfit as a white sweater and white duck trousers that are slightly dirty, which makes him stand out like a stained patch of snow in early spring. The pale moonlight is contaminated by the dim yellow glow of two battle lanterns.

Billy is lying there, still as handsome and sailor-like as ever, even though he has gone through a painful experience which he described as his innocent heart's first encounter with evil. This experience has now passed and he has received some private counsel from Captain Vere, which has helped him heal. As he lies there, he looks peaceful and calm, like a sleeping child.

The chaplain encounters Billy in a state of tranquil serenity, lost in thought. The chaplain recognizes that his presence is unnecessary as there is nothing he can provide that surpasses the sense of calm emanating from Billy's relaxed form.

The chaplain returns early in the morning and is greeted by Billy, who is now awake. However, the chaplain is concerned that Billy may not fully comprehend the concept of death. Despite acknowledging that he is about to be executed when questioned, Billy seems to have a limited understanding of death, resembling that of a child. The chaplain believes this is due to Billy's uncivilized nature, as fear of death is "more prevalent in highly civilized communities."

Billy comprehends the concept of death without apprehension, but the chaplain's efforts to explain salvation and a Savior prove to be too theoretical for Billy to grasp.

The chaplain, who possesses both good judgment and compassion, chooses to discontinue his efforts to give Billy some religion. However, before departing, he shows his affection for the convicted individual by giving him a kiss on the cheek. Although the chaplain is convinced that Billy is not guilty, he decides not to challenge the unjust verdict. He feels that speaking out against it would be pointless and goes beyond his designated role.

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Chapters 23-24 Summary


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