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Chapter 12 and 13

Chapter 12

Claggart was certainly not an ugly man, and he even dressed well to enhance his image. But he lacked that natural beauty that Billy possessed, and it made Claggart extremely jealous. What made Claggart even more jealous was the fact that Billy was a complete innocent: an uncorrupted soul, as if he alone avoided the bite of the serpent which every person feels. With the exception of the Dansker, Claggart was probably the only man on board who had the intellectual capacity to understand what Billy Budd was. To an evil man like Claggart, placed next to something he could never be, the only course of action would be to try to destroy it.

Chapter 13

The spilling of the soup became the event that drove Claggart to act directly against Billy Budd. On some level Claggart understood that spilling the soup was simply an accident, but he was more ready to believe that it was an intentional insult because of his insane jealousy and the negative reports from one of his policemen, "Squeak." Squeak, so nicknamed because of his squeaky voice and rat-like face, saw that Claggart disliked Billy Budd, and he therefore tried to annoy Billy with minor persecutions (the reason Billy asked the Dansker for advice). In addition, Squeak made up bad things that Billy said about Claggart and reported them to Claggart. Claggart had no reason to doubt these stories because he knows that everyone hates the master-at-arms.
Since Claggart tried to hide the fact that he hated Billy Budd, he didn't feel comfortable talking to anyone about him. If he had asked someone if Billy Budd spilled the soup in front of him on purpose, he might have discovered that it was an accident and nothing more. But he rather chose to believe the worst about Billy, and he set about to get his revenge for the imagined insult.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3 and 4
Chapter 5 and 6
Chapter 7 and 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12 and 13
Chapter 14 and 15
Chapter 16 and 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19 and 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22 and 23
Chapter 24 and 25
Chapter 26 and 27
Chapter 28, 29, and 30


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