A very sneaky narrator

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"The narrator structures a reading response that likewise seves self-interest and vanity; readers are invited to see Delano's confusions as innocence and to view their own subsequent confusion through the same lense...Readers are not aksed to believe Delano-indeed we are warned taht he is a bit simple-minded-but to believe in him, in his essential good heartedness."

Very true.
When I first met Delano in the story, I began to relate to him as well as have empathy for him.
After a while we begin to, as Dr. Jerz put it, call him Captain Happy.
He is trying to help everyone out. Delano makes mistakes; however, the narrator tempts us with an explanation that still allows the reader to respond positively to him.
Even though I am screaming towards Delano during my reading saying "GET OFF THE BOAT!", I still believed in him.

There is a force of the narrator that makes the reader identify with Delano even if we think he is too gullible and stupid. The overall manipulation of the reader is accomplished through Melville's narration. The narrator is a shadow within the story who is enticing the reader to believe that all will work out well and at the same time building up the vague, confusing plot.
O'Connell presented great points and justifications throughout this essay that actually helped me with the overall reading of "Benito Cereno".

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2 Comments

Dave Moio said:

You are far more trusting than me. I had Delano pegged as completely stupid and did not side with him at all. I think the reason you hear so much venom from me over "Benito Cereno" is that I really thought the story was transparent. I keep reading so many essays telling me how clever Melville was. I just think he was a racist trying to make blacks look like savage animals, but what the Hell do I know?

Dave Moio said:

I would agree with this if I had not had a completely contrary experience when I read the story. I immediately suspected that Delano was a patsy and did not trust a single thing he did or said throughout the story. As a result, Melville's narration seemed transparent and almost too contrived for me. I was laughing every time Babo showed up because I kept waiting for Delano to realize that Babo as a servant was the ultimate irony considering his actual status. I was always suspicious that Babo was really in charge because of how close he always stayed to Cereno. Once I settled on Babo as the true ringleader on the ship, I had cracked Melville's mystery. Maybe I just got lucky in my reading, and maybe it ruins O'Connell's theories for me.

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This page contains a single entry by Denamarie published on February 17, 2007 9:53 PM.

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