Beneito Cereno and the Ideal Reader and Character

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"To Captain Delano's imagination, now again not wholly at rest, there was something so hollow in the Spaniard's manner...His next operation was with comb, scissors, and brush" (Melville 512).

I thought that Melville was writing a story with characters that represented how an ideal reader can never hold the true meaning of a text without encountering poetic devices or unforeseen events.

Captain Delano wants to talk with Cereno, but immediately the slave said that Cereno had to shave. This reference stood out to me because it reminded me of how a reader will, most likely, be distracted from the main point of the text due to secondary events.

This blog entry correlated with A Reader Must Stay on Course.

So, is Melville trying to describe how characters in a story cannot be ideal characters because many events change which, in turn, change the scene that the character has initially intended.

I thought the story was very interesting and involved many symbolic scenes which represented how slavery and the African American community were thought of in a different way than today's world.

A Question for you:

Do you think that Melville is showing how an ideal character is similar to an ideal reader because both ideals become distracted due to the story line or author intended distractions (references) such as slavery or racism?

Click here for the course web page devoted to Melville.

1 Comment

I think that we were supposed to be distracted. All of Melville's characters were very flawed. Human nature is peculiar and I think that Melville plays off of these peculiarities. Anyway, I couldn't help but think of Sweeney Todd when reading this scene. I was waiting for him to slice Benito's throat.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on February 21, 2009 3:44 PM.

A Reader Must Stay on Course was the previous entry in this blog.

...But The Second Mouse Gets the Chesse is the next entry in this blog.

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