Study Guide

Billy Budd Chapter 28

By Herman Melville

Chapter 28

  • Because these events are based in truth and fact, the story will not wrap up so neatly as a purely fictitious fable. Yet there will be three chapters serving as a sequel to the story of Billy Budd.
  • First, the French had re-named their St. Louis battleship the Atheist, which the narrator thinks is absolutely the most fitting possible name for a battleship.
  • As the Bellipotent returns to the English fleet, it falls into battle with the Atheist. Captain Vere pulls up alongside it, hoping to drop boarders down onto the other ship's deck.
  • He is hit with a musket ball, and is critically injured, brought down to the cockpit where a bunch of injured men already lay.
  • Under the command of the senior lieutenant, the Bellipotent wins the fight. Captain Vere dies at an English port near Gibraltar, never getting to reach the Nile or Trafalgar, which might have brought him real fame.
  • Shortly before he dies, his attendant hears him murmuring the words, "Billy Budd, Billy Budd" (28.5). The attendant reports the words to the senior officer of the marines, who keeps silent, though he is one of the few men present who knew who Billy Budd was.