Essay about The Character of Captain Delano in Benito Cereno

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The Character of Captain Delano in Benito Cereno

Captain Amasa Delano is an interesting embodiment of white complacency about slavery and it's perpetuation. Delano is a human metaphor for white sentiment of the time. His deepest sensibilities of order and hierarchy make it impossible for him to see the realities of slavery. Delano's blindness to the mutiny is a metaphor for his blindness to the moral depravity of slavery. The examination of Captain Delano's views of nature, beauty, and humanity, allow us to see his often confusing system of hierarchical order which cripples his ability to see the mutiny and the injustice of slavery.

After Delano believes that Benito Cereno cut his faithful slave on the cheek for shaving him
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In the view of the captain everything, even nature herself can be fit into "good order." But to insure that good order can exist there must be a prevention of misery. Captain Delano seeks to placate and to prevent misery in those lower than himself in his sense of order. The crucial lesson which the Captain cannot understand is that his conception of "good order" inherently causes misery in those he enslaves. The reason he wants to believe the lie of the San Dominick is because it validates his all important system of order and hierarchy.

Delano's first description of Babo compares him to a "shepherd's dog." (p. 41) Not only did Delano compare him to something that was not human, but the assertion that Babo was a "shepherd's dog" is important to understanding Delano's obsession with hierarchy and possession. Delano must understand everything in terms of its relationships and its place in his hierarchy. Delano describes the San Dominick as "a Spanish merchantman of the first class, carrying Negro slaves, amongst other valuable freight." His first reaction to the fact that there were blacks on the San Dominick was to classify the blacks as "valuable freight." He describes the black mothers as "Unsophisticated as leopardesses; loving as doves.." (p. 63) After Captain Delano discovers that the blacks have mutinied, they are no longer dogs but wolves: "Exhausted, the blacks now fought in despair.
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