Irony and Racial Uniqueness in Benito Cereno

Good Essays
Herman Melville was born in New York in 1819 so he grew up in a time where slavery was still common and accepted, but in an area in which blacks were treated with much more respect than they were in the south. His father 's relatives could be traced back to a man who was a part of the Boston Tea Party and both his mother and father had relatives who fought with the union in the Revolutionary war (Johnson). Melville had many jobs growing up, including teaching, being a bank clerk, and sailing on a whaling ship, which is what jump started his writing career (Johnson). Many of the stories that Melville writes take place out on the sea and tend to be quite adventurous and unexpected, much like Benito Cereno. This style is more than likely…show more content…
A major example of the grayness in this story is in this excerpt: "The morning was one peculiar to that coast. Everything was mute and calm; everything gray. The sea, though undulated into long roods of swells, seemed fixed, and was sleeked at the surface like waved lead that has cooled and set in the smelter 's mould. The sky seemed a gray surtout. Flights of troubled gray fowl, kith and kin with flights of troubled gray vapors among which they were mixed, skimmed low and fitfully over the waters, as swallows over meadows before storms (Melville)." Captain Delano believed that blacks were kind-hearted and humble people and may have had good intentions, but he still found nothing wrong with the slaves aboard the San Dominick. He even thought Babo as an ideal servant for Captain Cereno, saying he was submissive, yet happy (Richards). Delano may have good thoughts about the slaves he still believes nothing is wrong with the idea of them and that kind of thinking settles more on the bad side of things. While Benito Cereno and Babo on the other hand are what really create the gray in the story. Benito Cereno was a captain of a slave ship, so there was no question that he was in favor of slavery also considering that he had a personal slave servant. Babo was a slave on this ship, he was enslaved, like all the other slaves, for no reason other than that the whites thought they
Get Access