Having been transferred under guard from the captain's quarters to a space between two guns on the upper starboard gundeck, Billy lies in irons under surveillance of the sentry. Reclining as though in a trance, he receives a visit from the chaplain. Seeing that Billy is not aware of his presence, the chaplain goes away. He returns in the hours before dawn. Billy is awake now and greets the chaplain. In vain, the chaplain tries to impress upon Billy the theological abstractions of salvation and the afterlife. The communication gap between the man of God and the simple sailor is a bridgeless chasm. Although Billy listens respectfully, he cannot comprehend the chaplain's message. The chaplain does not persist. Alter impulsively kissing the doomed man on the cheek, he reluctantly leaves Billy. This chapter is the key to the main religious motif in the novel. Melville's famed irony takes hold of
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