Racism In Benito Cereno

1150 Words5 Pages
The ignorance of Captain Delano in Benito Cereno can be accredited to his racist convictions that guide his perception of the ship’s perilous situation. However, is Delano at fault for his racism? When rethinking the racism in Benito Cereno under the context of Althusser’s theories on ideology, racism is an ideology forcibly implemented on the subject through the social institution of slavery. Delano’s actions and thoughts throughout Benito Cereno prove that his racism is a result of a socially imposed ideology and challenge the modern ideals of racism that place the blame for racist attitudes entirely on the racist subject. Delano is the subject of a racist ideology and has been forced into that ideology through the social apparatus of slavery
A fundamental aspect of ideology is that “an ideology always exists in an apparatus, and its practices, or practice. The existence is material” (Althusser 695). The ideology of racism uses the institution of slavery as an apparatus for implementing racism. Slavery was a socially imposed practice that trained those who were enslaving others to accept the reality and need for this given institution. This ideology forced people into perceiving Africans as wild people who lacked civility, education, and intelligence as a whole. However, as is the function of ideology, the individual being influenced lacks the control to escape from the cyclical nature of the idea being enforced. This system left Delano incapable of questioning the
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