Billy Budd Chapters 12-14 Questions and Answers

Herman Melville

Chapters 12-14 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Melville suggest that clerics would be good experts in a court of law?

2. According to Melville, how are envy and antipathy related?

3. What quality of Billy’s has served to move Claggart against him?

4. How is Claggart’s envy different from the envy of Saul for David?

5. How is Claggart like the scorpion?

6. What is the reason for Claggart’s reaction to the spilled soup?

7. Why does Squeak make up charges against Billy?

8. Why doesn’t Claggart check on Squeak’s reports?

9. How does Squeak’s name reflect his personality?

10. How does Claggart manage to override his conscience?

Answers
1. According to Melville, clerics have better insight into the human heart.

2. Envy and antipathy are like conjoined twins.

3. Billy’s physical beauty has been the initial motive for Claggart’s antipathy.

4. Claggart’s envy is more profound than Saul’s.

5. Like the scorpion, Claggart has been created by God to fulfill a certain destiny.

6. Claggart imagines that Billy has deliberately spilled the soup to express his own dislike of Claggart.

7. Squeak perceives Claggart’s dislike of Billy, and he wishes to ingratiate himself.

8. Claggart prefers to believe ill of Billy, so he takes Squeak’s reports at face value.

9. “Squeak” implies a rat, and Squeak “rats” on Billy to Claggart.

10. Claggart prefers to think ill of Billy so he can rationalize that he is justified to have animosity toward him.