Study Guide

Billy Budd Chapter 20

By Herman Melville

Chapter 20

  • The surgeon relays Captain Vere's orders, but he thinks that the Captain is not quite behaving properly. According to custom, Billy should be confined and the matter should be reported to the Admiral.
  • The surgeon wonders if Vere is mentally unhinged, but knows that he cannot produce any evidence and thus cannot say anything because "To argue his order to him would be insolence. To resist him would be mutiny" (20.2).