Critical Essays Moral of Billy Budd

Melville appears to have added the last three chapters to square the story with reality. They also serve as a completion of the myth. It is the memory of Billy rather than of Claggart or Vere that survives. The poem reads as though it takes place in Billy’s mind both before and after his death. His death softens into a peaceful sleep amid the twining seaweed that comprises his final resting place.