Grammardog Teacher's Guide contains 16 quizzes for this sea tale. All sentences are from the novella. Figurative language compares the innocent Billy Budd to birds (goldfinch, migratory bird) and a young horse fresh from the farm. Biblical allusions support the theme of difficult moral decisions (Adam, the serpent and the apple of knowledge, Abraham and Isaac, Jonah, Saul and David, and Joseph).
PLOT SUMMARY: An innocent sailor becomes the prey of a sadistic officer. The Grammardog Guide to BILLY BUDD features sentences from the novella in 16 grammar, style and proofreading quizzes that reinforce plot, characters and themes. The story is set in 1797 aboard a ship of the British Royal Navy. Billy Budd is a young, handsome, charismatic sailor who is well-liked by all the crew except for the Master-at-Arms John Claggart. In spite of, or perhaps because of his popularity, Billy Budd is the target of Claggart’s antagonism. One day Billy is summoned to Captain Vere’s cabin where Claggart accuses Billy of conspiracy to mutiny. Billy can’t respond verbally due to a stutter that impedes his speech when he is emotional. The frustrated Billy speaks with his fist: “quick as the flame from a discharged cannon at night his right arm shot out . . .” The blow kills Claggart. The other officers and Captain Vere believe Claggart’s accusation is false and that Billy’s response is justified. Nevertheless Billy must be made an example of for fear that if military rules are not enforced, sailors might indeed mutiny. Billy is court martialed and hanged. Years later Captain Vere is mortally wounded in a sea battle. His dying words are, “Billy Budd, Billy Budd.”