Billy Budd Test | Final Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. In chapter 17, how does Claggart react when he and Billy suddenly meet?

2. To which biblical figure does Melville compare Claggart?

3. Why does the Captain feel that Billy must be punished?

4. In chapter 25, what does the crew cry in unison?

5. According to the article about the Bellipotent, how is John Claggart murdered?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is the significance of Captain Vere's last words?

2. How does Captain Vere view Billy before the foretopman is confronted with the accusation of mutiny?

3. How does Claggart's expression begin to betray his feelings in chapter 17?

4. How does Melville explain the trusting nature of most sailors?

5. Describe Claggart's funeral.

6. Why isn't the chaplain worried about Billy's impending judgment?

7. Why does Billy refuse to believe that Claggart is orchestrating the events that are plaguing him?

8. Why does Billy cry out "God bless Captain Vere!" moments before his execution?

9. Why does Captain Vere insist that the drumhead court render judgment according to the Mutiny Act?

10. How is Billy like a sacrificial lamb?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

What ironies are evident throughout the novel? What ironic elements are present in Billy's trial and execution? What ironic elements are presented in the manner in which Billy's story is reported on land versus at sea?

Essay Topic 2

What is a "cat's paw" and which characters represent this analogy? Why does Claggart choose to use a "cat's paw" instead of dealing with Billy himself? How does the use of the "cat's paw" backfire on Claggart?

Essay Topic 3

How is supernatural symbolism used throughout the novel? When Captain Vere presents Billy to the crew as a murderer, how do the supernatural symbols present during Billy's execution and burial contradict the captain's claims? How is supernatural symbolism used to honor Billy's memory and preserve the truth?

(see the answer keys)

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