In the body of this short novel, three main characters dominate a third of the text. Billy Budd is the central figure of the first part, Claggart the middle, and Captain Vere the last portion. In like fashion, Melville arranges the sequel, although in reverse order. In the first chapter, Captain Vere dominates. The upshot of the piece is his invocation to Billy, as though he were either blessing or seeking to join him in the afterlife. The words form a kind of antiphony, or choral response, to Billy's original benediction. Whatever the interpretation, the captain's tone of voice precludes remorse as a motive.The second chapter in the sequel is the most puzzling and probably the most crucial to Melville's true intent. John Claggart, who achieves a stature in the naval chronicle that he never approached in real life, dominates this chapter. From the official point of view, he is the hero of the
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