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Billy Budd

Billy Budd


by Herman Melville

Billy Budd Loyalty Quotes

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

Quote #7

[Captain Vere:] "As to Budd, cite me an act or spoken word of his confirmatory of what you in general charge against him. Stay," drawing nearer to him; "heed what you speak. Just now, and in a case like this, there is a yardarm-end for the false witness." (18.18)

Given the danger of being a false witness, doesn't it seem that very few would step forward to announce a rising mutiny? Does accusing another man of treason even constitute a normal action aboard an English battleship? What motivations could Claggart have for accusing someone, even if they were guilty of treason?

Quote #8

[Captain Vere:] "I believe you, my man," said the witness, his voice indicating a suppressed emotion not otherwise betrayed. (21.13)

Does the fact that Vere assures Billy that he believes him mean that Vere is showing loyalty to Billy? Or is Vere's assurance empty since he does not act on that belief? What is the relationship between loyalty and belief?

Quote #9

If possible, not to let the men so much as surmise that their officers anticipate aught amiss from them is the tacit rule in a military ship. And the more that some sort of trouble should really be apprehended, the more do the officers keep that apprehension to themselves, though not the less ostentatious vigilance may be augmented. (23.6)

Pretend, for a second, that you are an underling on a military ship. When you show loyalty to your commanding officers, do you think that part of the assumption is that they will take care of trouble for you? Or is part of the assumption that they will be completely open and honest with you? Is Vere returning the men's loyalty by keeping news of trouble from them or is he breaking their trust?

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