Chapter 19 & 20 Notes from Billy Budd

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Billy Budd Chapter 19 & 20

Billy is surprised to find himself in a room with the two officers. He doesn't understand until Claggart performs his serpent-like accusation. Billy is struck dumb. The Captain impatiently yells for him to defend himself, not knowing of Billy's propensity for stuttering. The Captain speaks more softly and tells Billy to take his time. This only makes Billy frightened and angry. He punches Claggart square in the forehead. Claggart collapses. The Captain's fatherly tone suddenly becomes very soldierly. He makes Billy wait in another room. The surgeon enters and sees the black blood coming out of Claggart's nose. He confirms his death. The Captain excitedly calls this divine judgement. Claggart was "[s]truck dead by an angel of God! Yet the angel must hang!" Chapter 19, pg. 478. The surgeon is upset by this behavior as they move the body. The Captain calls for a drumhead court. He orders that no one but the lieutenants be notified of this event.

Chapter 20

The Captain is in a frenzy. The surgeon thinks that Billy should be confined and tried by the admiral once they rejoin the fleet. He doesn't want to look like he is threatening the authority of the Captain so he says nothing. All the officers are in the same quandary.

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