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Chapter 28, 29, and 30

Chapter 28

The story is drawing to a close and now there are just some loose ends to tie up. As the Bellipotent was returning to the British fleet, they came across the French vessel called the Athee (the Atheist). They engaged in a battle, and during the course of it Captain Vere was hit with a musket ball. He was severely injured and the senior lieutenant took over, eventually leading them to victory over the enemy. Vere struggled for a few days, but he didn't survive the injury. As he lay dying, his attendant heard him mutter "Billy Budd, Billy Budd." The attendant passed these last words of the captain along to the senior officer of the marines, who claimed that he didn't know who Billy Budd was.

Chapter 29

A few weeks after Billy's execution, an account of the events was printed in a newspaper, "News from the Mediterranean." It got many facts of the story wrong but up until now was the only version of the story in print. The article states that Claggart had discovered a plot led by Billy Budd, and as the master-at-arms brought these charges down on him in front of the captain, Billy drew a knife and stabbed him in the heart. It turned out that Billy Budd was not an Englishman, but rather a foreign assassin masquerading as one to cause trouble in the British navy at a time when they were desperate to fill their crews with men. The master-at-arms was a respectable middle-aged man in a respectable position, one crucial in maintaining the efficiency of the crew. In the end, Billy Budd was punished severely and swiftly, and no trouble ever occurred again on board the Bellipotent.

Chapter 30

To his former shipmates, Billy achieved mythic status. They believed that the beam from which Billy hung was like the cross that Christ was crucified on, and they were determined never to lose track of it wherever it ended up. Although they didn't fully understand what happened, they knew in their hearts that Billy could not have been guilty of the crimes that he was accused of - mutiny and willful murder. Another foretopman wrote a poem honoring him. It was called "Billy in the Darbies," and it was about the evening before Billy's execution. The poet imagines that Billy is terribly afraid of the fate that awaits him.

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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