Billy Budd Chapters 20-21 Questions and Answers

Herman Melville

Chapters 20-21 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Billy’s first reaction to Claggart’s accusation?

2. Why does Vere want to observe the confrontation between Claggart and Billy?

3. Why doesn’t Billy Budd answer his accuser?

4. Since he cannot speak, what action does Billy take?

5. Why does Captain Vere send for the surgeon?

6. What does Captain Vere decide to do about the crime?

7. What is the surgeon’s concern about Captain Vere?

8. What does the surgeon do?

9. What were the reactions of the lieutenants and the captain of the marines?

10. What is a “drumhead court”?

Answers

1. Billy is surprised but not apprehensive.

2. Vere wants to observe the expressions in each man’s face.

3. In moments of stress Billy develops a speech impediment.

4. In frustration, Billy strikes out at Claggart and inadvertently kills him.

5. He wants to ascertain whether or not Claggart is dead.

6. Captain Vere decides to hold a drumhead court.

7. The surgeon is worried about Vere’s mental health, and he also believes it is impolitic to hold a drumhead court.

8.The surgeon obeys the captain’s orders and relates what has happened to the lieutenants and the captain of the marines.

9. Like the surgeon, they too would have preferred to wait for the admiral.

10. It is a court convened in the field rather than in a regular military courtroom.