Benito Cereno From an Historical Term Paper

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In fact, when in the midst of trying to sort out what was going on aboard the San Dominick, he briefly thinks that Cereno might be teaming up with the blacks, but this was impossible, since "who ever heard of a white so far a renegade as to apostatize from his very species almost, by leaguing in against it with Negroes?"

Throughout the story, Melville relates how Delano eases his fears by seeing the inferiority of the blacks, like when he feels an "apprehensive twitch" of fear when a group of blacks surround him (Tawill). He quickly assures himself that this group of men are "like so many organ-grinders, still stupidly intent on their work, unmindful of everything beside." Later, Delano associates these Negroes with docile animals. When the black slave Babo is first introduced, he is compared to a pet dog: "By his side stood a black of small stature, in whose rude face, as occasionally, like a shepherd's dog, he mutely turned it up into the Spaniard's, sorrow and affection were equally blended."

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/> Benito Cereno" was published in 1856 only four years before the Civil War. The purpose of the story, therefore, is more than Melville's opposition to slavery. By calling the ship "a slumbering volcano" in the story, he is also alerting the leaders of the United States that treating people inhumanly and enslaving them can cause much wider problems (Robbins). The story is indeed sympathetic to the slaves. The whites are shown to be biased, uncaring individuals and the slaves are seen as cunning and strong fighters who deserve to be free.

References

Andrews, William L.. Three Classic African-American Novels. New York: Penguin Group, 1990.

Karcher, Carolyn L. Shadow Over the Promised Land: Slavery, Race, and Violence in Melville's America. Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1980.

Robbins, Sarah. Gendering the History of the Antislavery Narrative: Juxtaposing Uncle Tom's Cabin and "Benito Cereno," Beloved and Middle Passage. American Quarterly 49.3, (1997) 531-573

Tawil, Ezra. The Making of Racial Sentiment: Slavery and the Birth of the Frontier…

Sources Used in Documents:

References

Andrews, William L.. Three Classic African-American Novels. New York: Penguin Group, 1990.

Karcher, Carolyn L. Shadow Over the Promised Land: Slavery, Race, and Violence in Melville's America. Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1980.

Robbins, Sarah. Gendering the History of the Antislavery Narrative: Juxtaposing Uncle Tom's Cabin and "Benito Cereno," Beloved and Middle Passage. American Quarterly 49.3, (1997) 531-573

Tawil, Ezra. The Making of Racial Sentiment: Slavery and the Birth of the Frontier

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