Billy Budd: Themes | LitCharts Study Guides
Billy Budd: Theme Analysis | Novelguide
The narrator compares Billy's confused state of mind here to that of a "young horse fresh from the pasture," who suddenly inhales "a vile whiff from some chemical factory" and keeps snorting and snorting to try to get the smell out of its nostrils. How relevant this image is to our own times of air pollution and toxic waste! It also suggests that one theme of Billy Budd might be about the transition from a simple world of green pastures to a mechanized society dominated by smokestacks, rigid factory schedules, and inhuman rules. Billy's kind of heroism and innocence simply can't survive in a world of polluting factories and corrupt cities.