Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #10

[Captain Vere:] "Marvel not that having been made acquainted with the young sailor's essential innocence the worthy man lifted not a finger to avert the doom of such a martyr to martial discipline. So to do would not only have been an audacious transgression of the bounds of his function, one as exactly prescribed to him by military law as that of the boatswain or any other naval officer." (24.9)

Let's say that Captain Vere had stepped out "of the bounds of his function" and helped Billy. Would this have been presumptuous? Would it have suggested that he considered himself better than "the boatswain or any other naval officer?" In what ways does Captain Vere have to practice what he preaches? What might happen if he didn't?

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