Billy Budd


Herman Melville

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Billy Budd: Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

The narrator returns to the moment of Billy's death. Right after his execution, a strange murmur started to grow among the crew, until Captain Vere ordered for everyone to return to their posts. The narrator calls the command "strategic," and abrupt.
Captain Vere senses that the death of such a dear comrade might stir dissent among the ranks of sailors, so he quickly returns them all to their duties.
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Billy was then given a burial, and the narrator describes another strange murmur arising at the moment Billy's body was slid into the sea, blending with "another inarticulate sound proceeding from certain larger seafowl." Many of the sailors were superstitious and saw this noise from the seafowl as very significant. The sailors then returned to their duties around the ship.
The sailors are willing to interpret the sounds of the seafowl as an almost miraculous expression of sympathy from nature. The narrator neither confirms nor denies whether there is any truth to this, or whether the birds' noise was simply a coincidence.
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