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Billy Budd

Billy Budd


by Herman Melville

Billy Budd Admiration Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

Indeed, except as toned by the former, the comeliness and power, always attractive in masculine conjunction, hardly could have drawn the sort of honest homage the Handsome Sailor in some examples received from his less gifted associates. (1.4)

Here is the first of many passages that praises Billy largely based upon his looks. What is the narrator's obsession with Billy's physical appearance? Do you detect homoerotic overtones in this and similar passages? What might that mean for the overall narration?

Quote #2

Not that he preached to them or said or did anything in particular; but a virtue went out of him, sugaring the sour ones. (1.10)

What exactly does the narrator mean by the phrase "a virtue went out of him"? Is this just an instance of a man leading by example, a case of actions speaking louder than words? Or is there something more complex going on? Would Billy even be capable of articulating the virtuous message that he seems to be delivering to the men via his behavior? If not, what do you make of this?

Quote #3

But they were not so young as our foretopman, and now few of them must have known a hearth of some sort, others may have had wives and children left, too probably, in uncertain circumstances, and hardly any but must have had acknowledged kith and kin, while for Billy, as will shortly be seen, his entire family was practically invested in himself. (1.17)

How does the fact that Billy's "entire family was practically invested in himself" give the reader a sense of why he appears so good and confident? Why would being well-raised prepare Billy to be so well respected by a bunch of sailors? Why wouldn't jealousy be more common on board the Bellipotent?

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