Benito Cereno

The Illusion of Superiority in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Benito Cereno College

Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer has remarked: “Unlike our ancestors, white people never reveled in their names, they glorified in knowledge and power. But the deceiver is still the deceiver, the liar is still the liar with his knowledge and power.” Many colonial figures have pondered the unjust discrepancy between the definitions of the European identity and the native indigenous identity. Toer, among others, also addresses the issue of deception – white masters using deception both to maintain a constructed sense of superiority over the indigenous natives and to deceive themselves into disregarding the ignominy of this crime against humanity. In observing this topic, it is important to differentiate between authority – which was a very concrete sense of power the white people owned – and superiority in racial identity, which is a fictional value constructed by the white people in power themselves. The discrepancy in racial identity is discussed and portrayed in Frederick Douglass’ non-fiction work The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville’s novella Benito Cereno. In both works, the authors portray the self-discovery of the oppressed Africans and their realization of the deception of the...

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