Benito Cereno

What images are repeated throughout the story and how do they add to the effectiveness of the plot?

benito cereno

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The skeleton of Alexandro Aranda: slave owner/ hung from ships bow, under which is a sign with the words "follow your leader." Babo comments on the whiteness of the bones (alluding to the fact he is a white man), never thinking that ALL men's bones are white.

One last use of imagery would be Melville's consistent use of the color gray, something very interesting in a tale that shows such great differences between blacks and whites. Gray, would fall right in the middle........ tolerance and equality.


A major image in "Benito Cereno" is the stern-piece of the San Dominick: "a dark satyr in a mask, holding his foot on the prostrate neck of a writhing figure, likewise masked."

From the beginning of the story to the end, monasticism, Catholicism, messianicism, the Inquisition and other religious imagery help to communicate Melville's message. For example; Christ images, or references to the Black Friars, a.k.a. the Dominicans.