Billy Budd Chapters 26-27 Questions and Answers

Herman Melville

Chapters 26-27 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What are Billy’s last words?

2. What is the effect of these last words upon the crew?

3. What action is taken by the ship’s authorities when the murmur arises among the crew?

4. What is unusual about Billy’s execution?

5. What is the effect of the circling sea fowl upon the sailors?

6. Why do the sailors respond the way they do to authority?

7. What question does the purser later discuss with the surgeon?

8. How does the surgeon know Billy’s body ought to have exhibited a muscular spasm?

9. How does the surgeon account for the absence of such a motion in Billy’s case?

10. What does the surgeon mean by describing Billy’s death as “phenomenal”?

Answers
1. Billy’s last words are “God bless Captain Vere.”

2. The crew responds with a “sympathetic echo,” “God bless Captain Vere.”

3. The ship’s authorities issue the command to the boatswain to blow his whistle, drowning out the murmur of the crew.

4. Billy’s dead body doesn’t show the usual muscle spasms, but rather hangs motionless.

5. Being superstitious, the sailors are profoundly affected by the sea fowl.

6. The sailors are trained to be obedient.

7. The purser discusses the reason for the lack of a muscular spasm.

8. The surgeon personally directed that Billy’s execution was to be scientifically conducted, and in such a case, there should have been a muscular spasm.

9. The surgeon is unable to account for the lack of a muscular spasm.

10. “Phenomenal” in this case means “extraordinary.”