Billy Budd Chapters 6-8 Questions and Answers

Herman Melville

Chapters 6-8 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What qualities does Captain Vere share with Lord Horatio Nelson?

2. How did Vere receive his nickname, “Starry Vere”?

3. Of what trait do Vere’s men complain?

4. What is the major duty of the master-at-arms?

5. Describe John Claggart’s physical appearance.

6. How does Claggart’s appearance suggest his character and personality?

7. What is rumored about Claggart’s past?

8. Why did the British navy accept the enlistment of men of disrepute?

9. How did Claggart manage to advance to the rank of master- at-arms?

10. What is the source of John Claggart’s power and authority aboard the Indomitable?

Answers
1. They are both patriotic, valiant, noble, and superior moral leaders of men.

2. A relative extracted and applied these lines from a poem by Andrew Marvell:

“This ’tis to have been from the first
In a domestic heaven nursed,
Under the discipline severe
Of Fairfax and the starry Vere.”

3. They complain that Vere is rigid and pedantic.

4. The chief duty of the master-at-arms is to preserve order on the gun decks.

5. Claggart is tall and thin. He is good-looking, but he has a rather heavy chin. He is pallid, and he has black, curly hair.

6. His pallor seems unhealthy or sinister to the men.

7. It is rumored that Claggart has a disreputable past, and that he had been involved in a criminal act.

8. When crewmen were desperately needed, the British navy was willing to accept any person, regardless of background.

9. Claggart advanced quickly through a combination of superior intelligence, hard work, and “ingratiating deference.”

10. Claggart built a power base through the use of compliant underlings.