Billy Budd Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
by Herman Melville

Billy Budd book cover
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Chapter 1 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What are the qualities of a Handsome Sailor?

2. How does Billy exemplify the Handsome Sailor?

3. Explain the fact that Lieutenant Radcliffe appears to have greater authority than Captain Graveling.

4. Why is Captain Graveling sorry to lose Billy?

5. Describe what type of man Captain Graveling is.

6. Why does Billy offer no resistance to his impressment?

7. What is the reaction of Billy’s shipmates when Billy is removed from the Rights-of-Man?

8. How does Billy bid farewell to his old life on the Rights-of- Man?

9. What is Lieutenant Radcliffe’s reaction to the way Billy bids farewell?

10. How does Billy adjust to life on his new ship, the Indomitable?

1. The Handsome Sailor is naively good, honest, noble, congenial, open-hearted, graceful, and amiable. He also possesses great physical and moral strength.

2. Billy Budd is a natural peacemaker, well-loved by his shipmates, handsome, kind, and naively innocent.

3. Radcliffe is an officer of the British Navy, while Graveling is the skipper of a private merchant ship.

4. Graveling regards Billy as his “jewel,” who changed the atmosphere aboard his ship from strife to comradely peace.

5. Captain Graveling is conscientious, prudent, and serious about his duties. He is a “respectable man.”

6. Billy is a simple fatalist, open to whatever adventures lie in store for him.

7. Billy’s shipmates are surprised and reproachful at Billy’s willingness to leave, and they are saddened as well.

8. Billy waves his hat to his shipmates and salutes the ship itself.

9. Radcliffe is good-natured about this breach of decorum, but he wonders if Billy is making a “sly slur.”

10. Billy is soon “at home on the Indomitable,” where he is well-liked by his new mates for his congeniality.