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MonkeyNotes-Billy Budd by Herman Melville
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Chapters 6-7

Aboard the Indomitable, the atmosphere does not appear at all mutinous, largely due to the respect commanded by Captain Vere. He is the Honorable Edward Fairfax Veer, a man of about forty and a career sailor who has shown his bravery in battle. Although he is a bachelor from a wealthy family, he has advanced in the navy due to his own abilities rather than through family connections. Vere is known as a strict disciplinarian, but mindful of the welfare of his men. By nature he is undemonstrative, modest, and gentlemanly. He also seems different from most other officers, for he is very unobtrusive, serious, quiet, and intelligent. He reads a lot, including history, biography, and philosophy, and speaks in a learned manner. As a result, he is sometimes criticized for being pedantic.

Vere takes his naval duties very seriously and demonstrates self- control in carrying them out. He is settled in his convictions and opposes new inventions, fearing they may be against mankind's welfare. He is undoubtedly a good seaman and a worthy commander, but he is also a bit odd. He often gazes vacantly and dreamily off to sea. He has been nicknamed "Starry Vere" by a poetry-reading relative, and the appellation sticks.


Notes

In these two chapters, Captain Vere is pictured as a certain type of authority. He is good at what he does, but is set apart by a few distinct characteristics; these characteristics will, of course, contribute to the problems which arise later on in the story. "Starry Vere" is distant, cool, and often resides distantly in his own head. Although he is respected for being fair, dedicated, and experienced, he is judged by his men as too aloof and intellectual. Vere's heart, however, seems to be in the right place, for he cares about the welfare of his men.

Possibly the most distinct characteristic of Vere, mentioned several times, is his strict adherence to discipline. It is hinted that Vere rather "hides behind" this convention.

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